We cannot possibly appreciate our CASA volunteers enough. Our volunteers selflessly give time and seemingly endless compassion to help children in our community. Being a CASA volunteer is a difficult job full of unknown and ongoing challenges. It’s an important job, though, and volunteers change the lives of children for the better every single day.
Sometimes this isn’t easy to see. When we think of changing lives, we often think of grand, cinematic moments, of big happy endings. The real experience of making an impact on a child’s life is rarely grand or cinematic, though, and the work consists of countless small moments and individual actions that add up to something great.
During National Volunteer Month in April, I shared some of the small things CASA volunteers do for kids that make a difference and that have a big impact. They are worth repeating here.
- Our volunteers know the kids’ personalities. Being able to tap into their likes and dislikes and speak with them about these, knowing what is important for them, is vital. Really knowing them means you can better speak to their needs, but, equally important, children just simply need to feel known and heard.
- Our volunteers explain things to kids. Even if we don’t have an answer for them, just explaining to them that even though it’s confusing, we are working hard on resolving the situation. Often decisions are made and kids can feel like they are an afterthought, but letting them know what is going on and how it will affect them helps them feel there’s someone who cares what happens to them.
- Our volunteers are there for our kids. Our volunteers are usually the most consistent people in kids’ lives. This consistency and the bond that forms, where, no matter how many changes there are, they know you are there for them, sending the message that they’ll be okay.
- Our volunteers visit our kids regardless of where they live, even when they move around a lot, which many do. Especially when kids are moved farther away, getting out to see them as soon as possible makes sure that kids know they are not forgotten and that they matter.
- Our volunteers know their parents. Whatever the direction or outcome of the situation, CASAs have a relationship with children’s parents and that makes a big difference. Taking the time to build a relationship with their parents shows that we value where children came from and, in turn, we value a part of who they are and who is important to them.
Our CASAs work so hard to always have an unconditional positive regard for the children we advocate for. When everyone else might focus on their behavior issues, our volunteers see the whole child. It sends the message that, regardless of their behaviors, we will be there.
For all the seemingly small things they do to make children’s lives better, thank you to our CASA volunteers. We appreciate you more than you could ever know.
Melissa Protzek, Esq.