By Sara Blake
CASA advocate Courtney Macias has always lived her life with a strong focus on independence and creativity. But as a mother of three and now a grandmother, her family has always come first. “As a young single mom, I knew I had to get my stuff together and get responsible. But I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart.” In 2001, Courtney started her own bookkeeping company to help small businesses get off the ground; and more than 20 years later, it’s still going strong. Since then, she has owned a thrift store and a wedding transportation business called Gyspy Tailgate with her now husband. When they aren’t running their businesses, Courtney and her family spend time on their houseboat and airstream. “We love to spend time on the lake fishing and camping. I’ve just always enjoyed keeping myself busy!”
How many of them don’t have a voice?”
Even amid the constant activity of her life, Courtney has always had a heart for children and wanted to find ways to help kids who needed it. “I seem to be a child magnet in our family, and I love it. My husband and I considered fostering, but with our crazy business schedules, we weren’t sure if it would be the best fit,” shares Courtney. However, a couple of years ago, she watched the Netflix series about the Gabriel Fernandez trial. “It really opened my eyes to the reality of child abuse and the vast need for people to step in and help these kids. How many of them don’t have a voice?”
Immediately after finishing the show, Courtney applied to be a CASA volunteer.
Today, Courtney is assigned to two cases: one with a teenager and one with a baby. Courtney explains that while advocating for a baby is different in many ways, her my biggest concerns are the same: “Are they thriving? Are they healthy and happy? How do they interact with their foster placements? What is their environment like?”
“CASA is truly individualized, relationship-based care. Everyone else involved in the case have huge caseloads and don’t always have the ability to ask the questions or spend the time that we do as volunteers with one case. The amount of time we can give makes a huge difference to a child.”
Courtney believes that CASA’s biggest role is to help give a voice to children in the overburdened child welfare system. “CASA is truly individualized, relationship-based care. Everyone else involved in the case have huge caseloads and don’t always have the ability to ask the questions or spend the time that we do as volunteers with one case. The amount of time we can give makes a huge difference to a child.”
Perhaps one of the most significant outcomes of Courtney’s volunteer experience so far is a new addition to her family – in the form of a kitten,that is! Cleo “the CASA cat” was an orphan found wandering around outside the placement of the baby Courtney was visiting out in the countryside. “When I asked about the kitten on the porch, they told me ‘People dump them here all the time, but we already have one. We were going to take it to the shelter, but do you want one?’ As I got ready to leave, I decided to pick up the kitten… and she literally wrapped her paws around my neck like a hug. The next thing I knew, I was driving home with her on my lap,” Courtney shares with a smile.
While her new kitten was certainly a sweet surprise, Courtney feels that the biggest impact CASA has had in her life thus far has been a shift in how she sees the world around her. “I’ve noticed I have more patience with people than I used to. I’m more invested in others, especially the kids I’m working with. Now I’m constantly asking ‘how can we better their futures? How can we help restore their lives?’”
“If you’ve ever thought about volunteering, or just want to learn more about what CASA does, I encourage you to do the research! Call CASA or talk to another volunteer like me. There are so many different ways you can help.”
Courtney wants the community to know that if they’re wondering what it’s really like to be a CASA volunteer, she is more than happy to share her experience. “If you’ve ever thought about volunteering, or just want to learn more about what CASA does, I encourage you to do the research! Call CASA or talk to another volunteer like me. There are so many different ways you can help.”
To learn more about CASA’s volunteer roles, check out our Info Sessions at https://www.casatravis.org/infosession.
March Volunteer Profiles 2022