Tori Boullion has surprised herself often in her 12 years as a CASA volunteer. She decided to get involved in the community because she wanted to be a voice for children, specifically babies, who couldn’t speak for themselves. She thought she might volunteer for six months or a year, but with every interaction, her investment in the community grew deeper.
“The more you give to a community, the more you realize what all the needs are,” Tori said. “It's changed my life.”
“I hope I bring a little sense of calmness and reliability to the child.”
Tori has worked in several CASA programs, including Drug Court, Early Family Engagement, and traditional child welfare cases. Although she initially worked with babies, she learned since that working with teens is a soft spot for her. “It’s a difficult age,” she said. “There’s something about it that really pulls at my heart. There’s so much uncertainty, you’re doubting yourself, you feel a lot of pressure, and all the sudden your family unit is falling apart,” she said. “I hope I bring a little sense of calmness and reliability to the child.”
Tori’s ability to tune into a child’s needs is one of her greatest strengths as a volunteer. When she noticed one of the kids she worked with was going through a difficult time and was drawn to music, she advocated for him to receive a donated guitar. The next time she visited him, he asked if he could sing her a song he wrote.
“He was not being allowed to be who he was meant to be,” she said. “Guitar was a healing tool for him.”
Tori's attention to children's needs has resulted in powerful advocacy when she spoke up against the recommendations of CPS in court for the well-being of the children on her case.
“It’s always hard, but there is bittersweet happiness in that their needs are going to be met,” she said.
"It’s changed how I view every situation—I step back and think, what is this person going through?”
Tori's understanding of families' complex stories has also been key to helping children find their voice. “There are so many systemic barriers,” she said. “Once you start looking at those, you learn why it might be hard for someone to stop doing drugs, to leave a violent partner, to make it to court or pay their bills. Access to mental health care doesn’t exist affordably. It’s changed how I view every situation—I step back and think, what is this person going through?”
The impact of CASA extends far beyond her volunteer experience. Tori said she feels more prepared to have open conversations with her own family, which includes a teenage son and daughter. “CASA has opened up that communication with my kids. Now we have conversations about culture, race and religion.”
"People think it’s a big commitment, but I don’t think it is. The reward comes back to you in so many other ways."
For someone thinking about becoming a CASA volunteer, Tori says, “I know it sounds scary, but open your heart and be willing to give it a try. People think it’s a big commitment, but I don’t think it is. The reward comes back to you in so many other ways,” she said. “I’m a much better person now. I know that.”
You can join Tori in being a powerful voice for a child who needs you! Learn more about becoming an advocate on our volunteer page, apply now, or RSVP for an upcoming Volunteer Info Session!
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