Jul 28 2020

Meet Volunteer Advocate Sofia Ojeda

By Shannon Contreras

“You always have to show up, no matter how hard that is. Being accessible and being there for the kids you serve is so important.”

For Sofia Ojeda, the decision to become a CASA volunteer was an easy one. After graduating from St. Edward’s University with a degree in Social Work, she knew she wanted to build on the skills she learned in college to make a difference in children’s lives. She heard an advertisement on the radio about the volunteer opportunity with CASA, and instantly knew it would be a great fit. She went through training and was assigned to her first case, while at the same time starting her career in social work.

“CASA opened my eyes to a lot of the causes and effects of the foster care system and how the process works. It helped me to understand why it is so important for children in this system to have CASA advocates.”

“Being a first-time CASA volunteer is like nothing else – it’s okay to be on a learning curve and I take it one day at a time. I learned so much from my training and am so happy I have a supervisor to support me,” she tells us.

“CASA opened my eyes to a lot of the causes and effects of the foster care system and how the process works. It helped me to understand why it is so important for children in this system to have CASA advocates.”

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Sofia has been on her first CASA case for almost three years and has learned so much during her time advocating for the children she serves. “The most important thing I’ve learned is that the best way to build trust is to follow through.” She said it wasn’t easy at first building a rapport with the kids, however, she persisted and worked hard to find the things that they had in common and build on those. Early on, she found that they all loved Harry Potter books and crafting, and that has helped her to be creative with virtual visits since the pandemic began, and she feels like her bond with them has continued to grow despite the distance. “The small details really matter, those things really helped us to bond.”

“I had been with this family and kids for two years, and I knew the case needed me to still be an advocate, no matter where I lived. I wanted to make sure these children were getting every inch of advocacy they could get.”

Last year, Sofia faced the biggest challenge yet in her career as a CASA volunteer. She moved to Houston for a job opportunity with KIPP Texas Public Schools, but because of her commitment to “showing up” for the kids she served, made the decision to continue with her CASA case.

Since then, she has been a constant presence in the lives of her CASA kids despite the distance. “I had been with this family and kids for two years, and I knew the case needed me to still be an advocate, no matter where I lived. I wanted to make sure these children were getting every inch of advocacy they could get.” Sofia drove to Austin monthly prior to COVID-19 and has had to adapt to the new challenges that the pandemic presented. “We really need patience with everyone during this pandemic, it is hard for everyone.”

Sofia’s best piece of advice to new volunteers is simple but powerful:
"You always have to show up, no matter how hard that is. Being accessible and being there for the kids you serve is so important.”

Interested in becoming a volunteer advocate? You can get started with our online Info Sessions and online Volunteer Training right now! Learn more on our Volunteer page or RSVP for an upcoming Volunteer Info Session over Zoom!

 

July 2020 Featured Volunteer Story Volunteer Profiles

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