Nov 24 2015
I have had the privilege of being a CASA volunteer for 28 years. In that time, I have used my voice to speak up for more than 30 children who’ve been through abuse or neglect.
If you knew me, you would know that being able to use my voice at all is a big deal. When I started volunteering with CASA, I had just undergone throat surgery, a procedure that left me with a paralyzed vocal cord. I have often been concerned the judges couldn’t hear me in court.
Yet, as I look back on the years of my advocacy, I realize it is the volume of your effort to help an innocent child, not the volume of your voice that matters.
Today, I’m asking you to add to that volume of effort, to increase CASA’s capacity to speak up for more children in our community, by making a gift of $30, 50, 100 or more. Over the past 30 years, CASA of Travis County has served more than 10,000 children, but in the coming years, there will be many more children who need us. And the good news is that this month, as part of CASA’s 30th anniversary celebration, your donation will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $30,000.
My first CASA case in 1987 hooked me because I recognized the value of a constant ally in a child’s life under some very challenging circumstances.
It was a family of 6 children with an urgent need for a permanent home. When the mother relinquished her parental rights while in jail, I set up the least traumatic goodbye visit possible for her to have with the kids. I requested a conference room in the jail and I asked her counselor to allow me to bring street clothes for her to wear.
Then we began the search for a new home. It took a long time to find a family willing to adopt 6 children, and when we did, they were in Detroit.
The kids moved and everything was going well until one week before the adoption hearing. The adoptive father suffered a heart attack and died. Suddenly these children’s lives were turned upside down again. When they returned to Austin, I was there. It was traumatic for them, and I was thankful to be the familiar face to help start the process over of finding them a safe, permanent home.
The kids eventually were adopted into two different families – relatives and a wonderful foster home. I was gratified to have been able to help these children through such tough times and to know that they were now able to lead full, happy lives with families who wanted to keep the siblings in touch. One has become an electrical engineer!
I don’t know how things would have turned out if I hadn’t been there when the adoptive father passed away. I don’t know how the children would have handled the multiple traumatic moments they had suffered without having a familiar face they could count on. That’s why I’m asking you to consider a tax-deductible gift today, to ensure that every child in need here in Austin has the powerful voice of a CASA volunteer to help them through the most difficult times.
People ask why I keep volunteering. I tell them about the support of my supervisors on the staff at CASA, the confidence of judges who consider my recommendations and often include them in court orders, the continuing education that keeps me updated in the field and the close friendships I have built with volunteers, attorneys, foster parents and more.
But it’s really about the children. Sometimes I’ve had tough cases that made me think, “I can’t do this anymore.” Then you have one that goes well and changes a child’s life for the better and you say, “Okay, I’ll do this for 15 more years.”
Even though my physical voice may not be as powerful as I’d like, I am very grateful for the opportunity given to me by CASA to speak up for children in need.
And I have certainly spoken up. After one particularly heated court hearing, the little boy for whom I was advocating asked me, “Miss Rebel, did you have this name before you had this job?”
Please consider donating today to help all of the children who need the voice of a CASA volunteer speaking up for their best interest. Any gift makes a difference in the life of a child.
CASA Volunteer since 1987
P.S. I’m sure you’re aware of how much children need CASA… how much the overburdened child welfare system needs volunteers to be the constant for these kids. I hope you will take this opportunity to donate and have your gift doubled for our community’s most vulnerable children.
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