Meet the Volunteers

Meet the Volunteers

Meet Volunteer Advocate Breier Mairena

“Volunteering with CASA has changed how I look at everybody,” says Breier. “No matter where they come from or what might be going on, I know everybody is going through something. Not only am I learning how to support the family I’m volunteering for, but I’m trying to be more understanding of everyone around me. How can I best help others?” Meet Volunteer Advocate Breier Mairena!

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Meet Volunteer Advocate Terry Walker

Terry encourages anyone who can to look for opportunities to focus on kids because there are so many who need our support. “Consider volunteering with CASA. I’ve found that it doesn’t take much of your time, and it’s a great way to give back.” Meet Volunteer Advocate Terry Walker!

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Meet Volunteer Advocate Jahnavi Muppaneni

“It’s easy to read about the case and make assumptions. But then you get to know the parents and families, and you see how hard many of them are working to overcome their obstacles. You see how much they are trying to change.” Meet Volunteer Advocate Jahnavi Muppaneni!

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Meet Volunteer Advocate Michaela Upchurch

“When someone truly sees you and believes in you; when they see something in you that you may not see, it’s life-changing. That’s what I want to be for these kids. We need all hands on deck right now. There is such a need for this, especially after the rise of mental health struggles we’ve seen kids battling over the last year. Volunteering feeds my soul. And I promise if I can do it, so can you!” Meet Volunteer Advocate Michaela Upchurch!

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Meet Volunteer Advocate Ian Spechler

"Becoming a CASA was a natural fit for me—I knew it was where I belonged. The child welfare system is desperately in need of passionate volunteers and advocates. The more we can have, the better. You will get so much out of it on a personal level as well. Being able to use your voice to stand up in court on a child's behalf—there’s nothing quite like it.” Meet Volunteer Advocate Ian Spechler!

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Meet Volunteer Advocate David Sosa

“Honestly, I think being able to watch the kids enjoy themselves on visits, they’ve made a connection with me and it's nice that for a short time, they don’t have to worry. On my first case, I advocated for a sibling group, and seeing them relax and enjoy 'being kids' is so important. To be able to be a constant presence in these kids' lives makes it all so worth it. A few hours a month of your time can totally change a child’s life.” Meet Volunteer Advocate David Sosa!

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Meet Volunteer Advocate Marycarmen Ramirez

“I knew I wanted to make a difference, one kid at a time." Marycarmen Ramirez spends her days working as a Victim Services Specialist for a local police department, and when she’s not at work, she’s in grad school studying toward a master's degree in Public Administration. Now, she's juggling all of this while serving as a CASA volunteer, and though the pandemic has brought a lot of challenges, she’s still been able to make great connections with the children she serves. “The most important thing for me when advocating is being a support system for the kids, being empathetic, and making sure they know they’re not alone.” Meet Volunteer Advocate Marycarmen Ramirez!

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Meet Fifteen-Year Tenured Volunteer Advocate Melissa Lorber

“Find something you care about that you’re interested in. I know a lot of people talk about finding your passion and making that your career, but that’s not really what I’ve done. I want to support my family, but then I want to find something else that I care about. Even if what you’re passionate about can’t be your job, do it anyway, and find whatever time you can to devote to it.” Meet Fifteen-Year Tenured Volunteer Advocate Melissa Lorber!

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Meet Volunteer Advocate Chuck Teague

“There are tremendous assets available for families that need support through CASA and the other organizations we work with. On my own case, I just feel so hopeful for this child’s future. Throughout my life, I’ve seen so many tragic instances where something happens during childhood, and a person carries that trauma always. At CASA, we help children see hope—that they are not trapped. It’s amazing.” Meet Volunteer Advocate Chuck Teague!

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Meet Retiring Volunteer Advocate Karen Manson

After dedicating nearly two decades to CASA of Travis County as a volunteer, Karen Manson is preparing to retire, and she reflects on her time advocating for the most vulnerable children in our community with passion, grit, and humor. The tenacity and empathy she's brought to each of her cases is an inspirational call for us all to find our own way to change the world. "I’ve never had a job that was anywhere close to being as rewarding as what I did these last 19 years. When you look at your life, you look to see how you made a difference, and I know with each of these kids I made a difference."

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