A CASA volunteer and close friend of mine recently explained to me that being a CASA volunteer is a lot like being a farmer. Because of CASA, seeds of love and hope for the future are planted in each child served. Even though you work hard to ensure that these seeds grow, for both our volunteers and the farmer, the harvest comes later. You may or may not get to see all the fruits of your labor. Much like the farmer dedicates each day to tending to his crops, volunteers dedicate their time to helping kids in care. With no immediate results, this hard work can often feel unappreciated. Even though they may not get to see the end result of all their hard work, CASA volunteers can be certain that their efforts are appreciated.
Each year the holiday season brings about the opportunity to reflect on all that we are thankful for. For children in foster care, however, the holiday season can be a difficult time. Their lives at unfamiliar homes are anything but easy. They know that volunteers are there to help them, but it can be difficult to feel, and especially express, gratitude when the world seems to be against you and nothing seems to go your way.
It is only natural for dedicated and service-hearted CASA volunteers to desire to feel appreciated. They dedicate countless hours and energy to helping kids in Child Protective Services (CPS) care. Typically, when we do something nice for someone else, we expect them to be thankful for our help. As a CASA volunteer, though, it may be rare to hear a child you’ve worked with say “thank you” for all that you do for them. It is our innate desire to feel appreciated for our work, so how do volunteers learn to cope with this perceived under-appreciation? As we reflect on thankfulness this holiday season, it is important to remember the true harvest.
As CASA volunteers, the desired harvest is not appreciation for hard work. Instead, the results of dedication to improving the lives of kids in foster care are seen in small victories. A child getting the individualized therapy they need to heal, joyful visits with brothers and sisters when siblings are placed far apart, improving grades after advocating in schools… every seed a volunteer plants is equally important.
CASA of Travis County thanks all of our volunteers on behalf of the kids who may not be able to express or even realize their gratitude. As you continue to plant seeds of hope and love for kids in CPS care, do not be discouraged. You can be assured that your labor has not gone unnoticed. As our CASA volunteers count their blessings this holiday season, I encourage all of you to remember that even though you may not hear the words “thank you” as much as you deserve, your efforts are truly appreciated.
Advocacy December 2016