By Sara Blake
“Volunteering with CASA has changed how I look at everybody,” says CASA advocate Breier Mairena. “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?”
"Both from training and from my case, it’s been really interesting learning about really how much trauma affects both kids and parents."
Breier has been a CASA volunteer since fall 2020 when she completed her training. “Both from training and from my case, it’s been really interesting learning about really how much trauma affects both kids and parents. And while it can be devasting, there are things we can do as volunteers to empower both the parents and kids to break cycles and heal on their own,” Breier shares energetically.
One of the most intriguing things about Breier is how resourceful she is when it comes to engaging the four kids on her case, all of whom are different ages and in different phases of childhood. They read books together and she even teaches them yoga – a skill she has over 200 hours of training in, including teaching at a yoga-based preschool.
“At first the oldest didn’t want to participate, which was fine,” Breier laughs, “but he changed his mind when he saw how much fun we were having.” The kids also love spending time with the horses at their placement, which is also extra fun for Breier as a former showjumper. As if she needed any more coolness points on her resume, she is also skilled in jiu-jitsu, which happens to be how she met her husband.
But perhaps the biggest focal point in Breier’s case is how to keep the children connected to their family. “I want to involve their family members as much as possible, especially their mom, who’s working hard and needs to feel support as well,” she emphasizes.
"I want to involve their family members as much as possible, especially their mom, who’s working hard and needs to feel support as well."
Admittedly, at first, Breier was a little anxious to be in such a significant role in someone’s life. “I got nervous because I felt like it was my responsibility to completely fix a situation,” Breier explains. “And I always feel like that when all the attention is on me, like having to say something to all the CPS workers or putting my feedback into a report to a judge. But the longer I’ve been on the case, the more I’ve overcome that. I can feel confident in myself because I know I’m doing what I can. And I know it’s not my responsibility to “fix” anything, because there is a whole team of people working together for this family. But within that team, I know my voice is valuable and my perspective matters because of the time I’ve spent with these kids.”
"Being a CASA volunteer isn’t as daunting as it may seem. It honestly doesn’t take that much time out of my life. But the time it does take is to make a true difference in someone’s life."
Between parenting two little girls under age six, being back in school studying International Relations and Global Studies, yoga, jiu-jitsu, and now volunteering with CASA, Breier has a full and active life. ‘How does she have time for it all?’ you may wonder. But according to Breier, “being a CASA volunteer isn’t as daunting as it may seem. It honestly doesn’t take that much time out of my life. But the time it does take is to make a true difference in someone’s life. And you learn so much about how families work, about kids and their needs, all of that. Things you can apply to the rest of your life!”
Could CASA be your passion? The children we serve are waiting for dedicated and caring community members just like you. Learn more on our Volunteer page or RSVP for an upcoming Volunteer Info Session over Zoom. If you're ready to begin your volunteer journey, apply today!
2021 Featured Volunteer Story Volunteer Profiles September