Traditionally each April we host a Volunteer Appreciation party to celebrate the dedication and hard work of our volunteer advocates. Since we can't celebrate together in person this year, we asked our team to share what they would have said to volunteers if our party were still happening. While a single blog post is not enough to truly express our deep gratitude for your incredible advocacy for children, we'll do what we can by sharing our teams' words with you today:
Emily Rudenick LeBlanc, Chief Program Officer
Our volunteers are what makes CASA so special. They bring the community into the courtroom and say these are all of our kids and this community will support them and be a powerful voice for them as long as they need us. I am always proud of the way CASA volunteers show up for kids and families and I find their persistence and tenacity inspiring. Thank you all for staying so focused on our mission, for your creativity, for your dedication, and for your time.
Catherine Jones, Senior Director of Community Engagement
I talked to a social work class at UT recently and one of their questions was whether we’d seen a decrease in volunteer engagement because of COVID-19, and I was so proud to say “nope!” I have mostly heard about volunteers stepping up, getting creative, working collaboratively with families and caregivers, and really, really showing up for kids right now. It makes me so proud of this CASA family to see that, when it’s the hardest and it matters the most, we’ve kept showing up. Even if it’s via Zoom. 😊
Stephanie Weiss, Senior Director of Advocacy
I am so honored to work alongside so many amazing people who are willing to give of their time and so much of themselves to serve the children of Travis County. Our volunteers show up, time again. I’m so thankful to be among so many who lead with grace, action and passion for this work. I’m blown away!
Fran Markowski, Child Advocacy Specialist
CASA volunteers are our lifeblood. I give gratitude to CASA volunteers as they demonstrate the embodiment of service to the community. To each and every CASA Volunteer I give thanks and admiration for your work, your dedication and devotion, your energy and enthusiasm, and your perseverance in serving our children and families.
Anitra Edwards, Program Manager
TAPP volunteers have gone above and beyond to stay connected with teens during this hard time. For some of them the CASA visits are the only healthy supports and connections they have so it’s been really tough dealing with their disappointment. I’ve heard about volunteers who have mailed their kids arts and crafts kits to keep them busy, or sent cards or small gift boxes just so they know CASA is still there and cares. I have a volunteer who wants to make a donation directly to CASA families affected by the crisis. It’s been amazing to see people in the community who are dealing with their own personal issues still being supportive of the children they are assigned to and to CASA.
Samantha Bielawski, Early Family Engagement Specialist
A special thank you to our Early Family Engagement (EFE) volunteers who joined this team with the intent of being on cases short-term, but have, without hesitation, offered much longer-term assistance whenever needed. No matter the length of time that you spend with a family your impact is far-reaching and we are so grateful that you are a part of our EFE family.
Nicole Jacobs, Child Advocacy Specialist
Thank you to CASA volunteers for giving so much of yourselves day in and day out for the children on your cases. And the strong advocacy that CASA volunteers radiate on a daily basis has not wavered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They continue to show up. They continue to be creative. And they continue to be heard. I am so honored to collaborate with these incredible members of our community. Your time, your compassion, and your dedication does not go unnoticed. Thank you!!!
Kathryn Schorg, Teen Advocacy Specialist
I’m thankful for my volunteers who have been creative in getting food to families in need. They’ve submitted requests for e-gift cards and offered to put in HEB curbside orders. On top of taking care of their own families during this difficult time, they’ve managed to increase communication with the kids they serve. I’m so grateful for each of my volunteers!
Florencia Grauer, Child Advocacy Specialist
I would thank my volunteers for all the work they do which includes getting to know their kids, placements and parents. I trust them all and rarely have to remind them of our mission and what needs to be done.
Lauren O'Grady, Child Advocacy Specialist
The great work we do is only made possible because of so many great volunteers. I feel thankful each day to work with a team of volunteers who are incredibly generous with their time and talent. Thank you for being such creative, thoughtful, dedicated, and caring advocates. We appreciate you!
Ty Leisey, Teen Advocacy Specialist
I have so much gratitude for all of my volunteers, in general but especially now. Having volunteers I trust on my cases makes all the difference, and none of us could do what we do without them. A simple ‘thank you’ will never be enough to cover all of the amazing work and strong advocacy we see from our volunteers, but even so—thank you!!
Gladys Muñoz, Child Advocacy Specialist
Thank you to my volunteers for being so awesome during this strange time. While things are changing daily, they have been very flexible and committed to being there for our kids. The volunteers have been juggling everything, both with their personal lives and with CASA, and have not lost sight of why they do this. They continue to focus on the importance of being there for the kids during a time that is so uncertain for everyone. They have put up with constant communication with me and for that I appreciate them so very much. Thank you thank you!!!
Laura Honsig, Child Advocacy Specialist
Thanks to volunteers for continuing meaningful interactions and conversations with kids during the pandemic, even via video call! I’m very appreciative of my volunteer team for stepping up their documentation like we asked as well!
Elizabeth Throop, Family Finding Specialist
I would like to thank all of my Family Finding volunteers for working hard to create healthy connections for kids in the system who are all alone. What you are doing truly makes a BIG difference in their lives, and some of those connections immediately offer or later become long-term placements for them and that’s life changing! Family Finding volunteers work behind the scenes and never get to see the reward of the actual relationships that they’ve helped establish. They never get to see the fruit of their work and how much of a difference it makes in the child’s life. It’s a tough role and I greatly appreciate all that they do!
Kayla Tatum, Child Advocacy Specialist
Thank you for the support and compassion that you have brought to the children and families on your cases. Thank you for asking questions and giving me the opportunity to learn more about how I can assist you as your supervisor. 😊
Hollie Toups, Teen Advocacy Specialist
I am constantly inspired by my volunteers and the creative ways they think of to support our teens during this time and their willingness to go the extra mile. I have a rockstar volunteer appointed to three teen girls in three different placements who made some craft care packages and sent to them so they could have something to keep them busy and also an activity to do “together, but apart.” When we found ourselves in this unprecedented situation, all of us were very worried about our teens and how to keep them safe and supported. But knowing my volunteers are calling, video chatting, sending care packages and making sure their teens know CASA is still here has been comforting.
Rachel DiMasi, Child Advocacy Specialist
I would like to thank my volunteers for constantly going above and beyond for our kids. We are in unprecedented times right now, and my volunteers haven’t hesitated to step up and take on the challenges—may they be our requests for more frequent contact with the kids on their cases, or learning to navigate video visits. It is enormously comforting to know that I have such amazing people to work beside and rely on during this crisis.
Tiffany Howell, Child Advocacy Specialist
Thank you all for you patience with me as I am a newer Child Advocacy Specialist and am still learning the ropes. You all have been welcoming and helpful. You have each really stepped up to the plate during this time and have been able to manage these weekly visits and meetings in drug court. I appreciate you keeping me updated on the cases as well! Looking forward to seeing you each in person.
Allison Watkins, Child Advocacy Specialist
I appreciate the opportunity to blow off steam with volunteers, who are the only people on a case who feel the same hopes, worries, and fears that inevitably come with the work. Most of my volunteers have reacted to our current situation with empathy and an eagerness to be solutions-oriented in the face of an unprecedented change in how we normally do our work.
Kayla Reese, Early Family Engagement Specialist
Our volunteers are so flexible and resilient and I am so so so thankful that not only do our kids have such amazing people to look out for them, but that us supervisors have such amazing people to work with.
Blair Adams, Volunteer Recruitment Specialist
To all of our Ambassadors: Thank you for the opportunity to get to know you better. Y’all are creative, generous, talented and hard-working people and Recruitment simply could not do our work without you. Because of your willingness to participate at Info Sessions, we’ve received 88 applications alone. We love our Ambassador family!
If these words inspire you to volunteer with CASA, our recruitment, screening and training has all moved online. Check out our Volunteer page to learn more and apply, or sign up for an online Volunteer Info Session to get your questions answered.
2020 Advocacy April