May 29 2013
By Sonia Kotecha
Out of all the opportunities in Austin why do you want to be a CASA volunteer?
This is the first question we pose to prospective CASA volunteers as part of their pre-training interview process. Our volunteers come from all walks of life so you can imagine the varying responses we receive, from wanting to make a significant impact in the life of a child to wanting to gain experience working in the judicial and social service system while giving back to the community. As we approach this time of year another theme emerges as to why one chooses to become a CASA volunteer – empty nest syndrome.
As high school seniors are waiting on the edge of their seats to throw off their caps and gowns and embrace their newfound independence, their parents are often left sitting on the bleachers pondering, “What’s next for me?” Becoming a CASA volunteer is the solution for many parents who experience a sense of loss and loneliness when their only or last child leaves the so-called ‘nest.’
“My kids are getting older and don’t need me as much, I find myself with more time on my hands, and I love being around children,” share many of our CASA volunteers who have teenagers and high school graduates.
In our last CASA 101 class, we had a few self-described empty nesters, some of whom work full-time and others who are stay-at-home parents, all of whom want to now spend their newfound freedom from the day-to-day activities of raising young children to being a trusting and supportive adult to a child who desperately needs one.
Many of our new volunteers who find themselves in the empty nest cohort bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their role as a CASA, not just as a parent, but as an advocate. A few of our new CASA volunteers have personal experience advocating for educational services for their own children who may have struggled with a learning or developmental disability. They know the education system and what questions to ask during key meetings at a child’s school. It is inspiring to hear their personal success stories in navigating the public school system for their own children and how they can now serve as a resource to a child in foster care who needs someone to advocate for their education.
So if you find yourselves on the bleachers of your child’s high school graduation wondering what’s next, think about becoming a CASA volunteer. There is so much you can continue to offer a child, especially one that needs someone like you to look out for their best interest.
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