Apr 17 2014
By Laura Wolf
"Be a pest...."
"But a nice one, and never to your supervisor".
This was among the calls to action issued to our CASA volunteers at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner by our keynote speaker Ian Spechler. Ian is an attorney with Disability Rights Texas and is well-known to all of us at CASA for his tireless advocacy on behalf of children with disabilities. Given his own fearlessness as an advocate, it was especially gratifying to hear Ian talk about the admiration he has for the work done by CASA volunteers. He spoke eloquently about the needs of children with disabilities in the foster care and juvenile justice systems and made a convincing case for needing a CASA volunteer for EVERY child. So another call to action Ian gave to our volunteers was: recruit more people like you to become CASA volunteers!
But, back to his suggestion that we should be pests --- Ian made it clear that part of what make CASA so important and instrumental to the best interest of kids is that CASA is in a unique position to push the system to meet kids' needs. Ian spoke of the overwhelming caseloads that CPS and lawyers have and encouraged CASA volunteers to pester other parties, graciously and politely of course, and to keep everyone's focus on finding permanency for kids.
And indeed it is the stalwart and relentless focus on the best interests of kids that makes CASA volunteers a bright light in what can otherwise be a dark time in children's lives. So at the end of the dinner, when we looked around and saw all in attendance holding lit candles as symbols of that light, it was a very powerful moment.
Thank you to all CASA volunteers for being bright lights in the lives of children, and for, on their behalf, being "pests" when that is what kids' best interests require.
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