Nov 23 2015
How do you distill 24 years of faithful service to kids into one article? All of us at CASA of Travis County are at a loss to put into words what Rozenna Sanders has meant to us over nearly two and a half decades.
Rozenna started volunteering for CASA in 1991, when she felt her career in high-end fashion wasn't fulfilling her. "I'd always had this love for kids and I looked at the system and thought, 'This is really horrible. How can a person make a difference,'" she recounted. "Then CASA came along and I realized 'yeah. One kid at a time. That's how you make a difference. One kid at a time.'" She realized this was the work she needed to be doing full time and, in 2002, she reached out to CASA's then-Executive Director Karen Cox, with whom she'd gone through volunteer training eleven years prior. As the two of them sat down, Karen told her there weren't any positions available at CASA and, by the time they got up, Rozenna's love of kids and her infectious spirit landed her a job.
Rozenna's job at CASA has changed often through her time here as we’ve grown from a staff of 13 to a staff of 50. That's fitting because it is a reflection of who she is as a person, always willing to step in where she is needed, always searching for different ways to help the people she cares about. Seeing an overburdened staff, Rozenna has continually looked for ways to take some of that burden off her co-workers.
I asked Rozenna what her favorite memory was from her 24 years at CASA and was unsurprised that it came right back to the kids. Her face lit up as she told me about the one year old girl on her case, already showing clear signs of depression after failing to bond with her mother. Once, during a court hearing, the girl stood up in the middle of proceedings and sidled her way onto Rozenna's lap. Her favorite memory came after the end of the case when the girl was adopted by a loving family and Rozenna could hear her laughing from the next room. She's had many more up and also some downs over the years, but "all in all, the work that we are doing is really making a difference. It's the best thing I ever did."
“Rozenna’s total commitment to CASA’s mission and vision – and to the children we serve – has never wavered. She’s always an advocate for children’s best interest and an ambassador for CASA. We’ll miss her!” – Laura Wolf, Executive Director
Now, as Rozenna leaves us to travel and cook, to walk the trails near her house, take line-dancing classes and spend time with her family, we are excited to see what comes next for the person who has supported us for so long. Rozenna told me her favorite thing about the staff at CASA is that "they have big hearts and they are in it for the kids." Well, I don't think there is a single one of us on staff who hasn't learned how to have a bigger heart from Rozenna's example. She leaves behind a powerful legacy and some mighty big shoes to fill.
Thank you, Rozenna.
A few more words from our staff about Rozenna Sanders:
"Rozenna has been a tremendous support to the CASA supervisors. She works very hard to take care of the administrative duties for our cases to ensure that we spend our time with our youth, families and supporting our volunteers." – Qunisha Simmons, Senior Teen Advocacy Specialist
"Rozenna has worn many hats during her years at CASA and, quite honestly, it’s difficult for me to imagine CASA without her! I am so appreciative of her commitment and dedication and wish her the very best in her next adventure." – Sarah Christofferson, Program Director
"Whether serving as a CASA volunteer, supporting program staff or managing our front desk, Rozenna has always been on the frontline. She’s been a friendly presence, a caring heart and a listening ear for so many. Given the ups and downs that come with serving children who are victims of abuse and neglect, Rozenna’s unwavering dedication and compassion to CASA’s mission for so many years is what I admire the most. She may be retiring from her day-to-day job, but I don’t think she will ever retire from being a powerful voice for children." – Sonia Kotecha, Director of Community and Strategic Initiatives
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