by Sara Blake
When Naphtalie Gbolahan first heard about CASA 11 years ago, she knew it was an opportunity she wanted to pursue. A Georgia Tech graduate, Naphtalie had a huge heart for kids, but didn’t know how she would find the time to fully commit to CASA while focusing on her civil engineering career. Fast forward to 2014, she and her husband were living in Austin with their two daughters. Having more free time as a stay-at-home mom, Naphtalie decided it was finally the right time to work with CASA.
On her first case, Naphtalie shares that she learned a lot about the power of second chances. She witnessed a mother who “did a complete 180” after almost having her rights terminated. “You don’t want to give up on the individual. There’s a chance for redemption,” says Naphtalie. “This mom has now kept the same job for a year and a half. This turned into a beautiful story at the end; I had a sense of peace and thought ‘wow I’m confident that this is going to work!’”
Naphtalie’s dedication to children in her community goes far beyond CASA. Naphtalie leads a children’s group, serves in her church, and is planning to go back to school to get her teaching certificate. She and her husband have also made a hobby of bee keeping, something they have hoped to do since their days in California.
Working with CASA is different than other volunteer opportunities, Naphtalie observes. “Sitting at the dinner table with my kids, I realized that a little girl who is the same age as my daughter shouldn’t have to be so confused. She should know where she’s going to lay her head,” says Naphtalie. “It’s hard to believe how many kids are in need and how close they are to me. I’m able and a part of my community, so I can make things a little bit better contributing how I can. I’m compelled more to be a person of action.”
Naphtalie is even encouraging her husband to get involved with CASA when the time is right. “As an African American, we have too many young men incarcerated. We need male role models because there is a need to be met and a void that needs to be filled.”
Now that she is part of CASA, Naphtalie doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. “After doing one case you can’t help but do more!”
Volunteer Profiles February 2018