Thursday, February 18, 2010

Show Us Your Ministry

I am participating in the link party at Kelly's Korner Blog. I am not doing this to say, "Hey look at what I am doing, aren't I great?", but I am doing it because the organization that I have chosen as my ministry desperately needs more volunteers. My hope is that others reading this, will have the same desire that I did, and volunteer with this organization. They are in desperate need of volunteers.

The following is a copy of a post that I wrote last June as I was starting my training:

Fifteen years ago, I started a volunteer "job" that was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my life. It was also very rewarding for my entire family. For eight years we were a Transitional Care Family for The Gladney Center. We took care of newborns until their legal work was complete for adoption. We had 60 babies during our eight years, and we all loved it so much.

Many nights of interrupted sleep finally took its toll on me. I also knew that I would be having grandchildren soon and didn't want to be "burned out", so I resigned. I still think about returning, but I know that it would be hard to do now at this stage of my life.

I have been looking for a volunteer opportunity for quite a while now. The problem is that I could not find anything that was the perfect fit. I volunteered at a couple of places where I was in a back room doing "busy work."My last volunteer job was brutal. I would arrive on time and the person I was working for would not be there yet. When she arrived, she would always say, "Oh my goodness, I didn't realize it was Wednesday. Come back here and let me see if I can find you something to do." It would be something that would keep me busy for three hours, only to be shoved aside until the next time she couldn't find anything for me to do. It was just busy work and didn't make a difference. After 6 weeks, I decided that sitting at home and watching TV would be better than that. Rather than my work helping out and making a difference for them, they were trying to find something to keep me busy.

I was watching TV recently (Dr. Phil Show), and I heard that they needed CASA volunteers
. Dr. Phil and Robin are the national spokespersons for CASA. When I read the description of what is involved, I knew it would be perfect for me. A CASA is a court-appointed special advocate for children who have been removed from their home because of abuse and neglect. In these cases, CPS removes the child from their home. There is the CPS caseworker, the attorney for the parents, and ad-litem attorney for the child and possibly other professionals involved in the case. These professionals all have a huge case load and to them the child is a "case" and not a delicate human being.

As a CASA, I will be assigned to a child as his/her personal advocate. I will visit the child, go to parent visitations for observation, go to his/her foster home, talk with Dr.'s and teachers and most importantly the child and find out what is in the best interest of the child for a forever family. I will also "investigate" to see if there are other possible family members that would be willing to care for and provide a loving environment for the child. From there, I will attend court hearings and make recommendations to the Judge, along with the professionals.

I am SO excited. Besides the fact that it will make a difference in the children's lives, I will be doing all of the things that I enjoy; investigation, legal, court and talking to lots of people. I can't wait to get started.I have passed the application, recommendation, interview and preliminary background process. (I was clear on my last criminal check for grand jury in the fall and I don't think I have committed a felony since then, so I will probably pass). The next step is 30 hours of training that starts mid July, and then 2 times of court observation. I will get sworn in by Judge Boyd and then I will get my first case.

I got my first case in August, and it has been everything I thought it would be and more. It has been frustrating, heartbreaking, gut wrenching and made me smile. I love that I feel like I have helped make a difference in several people's lives. I wish I could write about some of my experiences, but the cases are confidential. Confidentiality has also caused me much grief. There have been people that are in bad situations that could have been remedied, with just a little bit of help. Unfortunately, I have had to say "I'm so sorry, I can't." That is hard to do when the reason you are doing this is to help people. That has been one of the hardest parts of this job.

On a happy note, who do I feel like I have helped?

The foster children

The 2 sets of foster parents

The CPS case worker

The parents of the children

Why would I not love a ministry like this? I hope this inspires someone else to check into the life changing work of becoming a CASA. Right now in Tarranty County, there are 300 children that are waiting for volunteers so that they can have a CASA.

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Lesli said...

What you are doing is amazing! Do you have to have a degree to do this? I think I would love to do something like that one day! There is nothing more rewarding than helping children! Hope you have a great weekend!

Michelle said...

The world needs more people like you!

Have a blessed day!!

Maggie said...

Thank you for what you do! My husband and I are foster parents, and prior to that I was a caseworker. I loved it when I had a case with CASA.
I blog about our fostering experience at

feel free to come by!!

Becca said...

I love what you're doing! We're in GA, and are planning on doing some of the same sort of stuff here! (I'm coming from Kelly's Korner) -- I hope you get lots of volunteers!

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

Thank you for doing what you are doing. As a child who spent time in foster care the world needs more people like you!

~Katie said...

You ROCK! CASA is AMAZING. After fostering I wanted to become a CASA volunteer but, still find it hard to attend their training. I REALLY need to work on that though. My daughters CASA worker was HORRIBLE!! I won't get into details, but she liked to stir things up a bit and that made for an awful situation. Nonetheless, CASA is a FABULOUS organization and I hope I get the chance to train soon. Thanks for your work!