As we wrap up 2014, I am asking for your time to read the true story below. It illustrates how a CASA volunteer can change the life of an abused or neglected child. Won't you donate now to help an abused child in San Luis Obispo County?
Linda and David:
A CASA Story
She pulled to the side of a two-way road in her rusty old Porsche. “Now’s the time. If I can teach a nun to drive, I can teach you.” He gave it a try, other cars honked, and they both thought better of it. David would have to learn how to drive another time.
David laughs when recalling this impromptu driving lesson with Linda, his CASA Volunteer Advocate for over two years. Linda was the first stable adult in David’s life and that memory can still make him smile about a childhood marked with substance abuse, homelessness, and chaos.
42% of children in SLO County’s foster care system come from drug and/or
alcohol dependent homes.
David’s mother and brother were addicted to drugs and alcohol and it was common for both to be under the influence. While homeless and sleeping on a bike trail, David called his biological father who was staying in a halfway house and could not accommodate him. Around this time he realized he could not live with either of his biological parents, and also parted ways with his brother who later ended up behind bars.
You may know a child like David. You’ve passed him on the street —he’s gone to school with your children and grandchildren. You probably didn’t know he was missing school because he was without adequate shelter and parenting.
After spending time at a local church, David saw a different way of life and, longing for change, went to a local shelter and asked to be placed in foster care. Taken aback, the staff insisted on meeting his mother who came to the first meeting intoxicated and missed several appointments thereafter. David got his way; he entered the foster care system and became a dependent of the court.
He arrived at his first placement to the find locks on all of the cabinets. Two years behind in school, taking seven classes a day and two at night to catch up, he remembers thinking “I don’t have time to steal your stuff.” His stay was temporary but it was there where he forged a life changing connection with his CASA volunteer.
A CASA volunteer is often the only stable adult
in a foster child’s life.
“Linda — head of long, white hair, larger woman, tall, wide, loud, full of life — very nice.” If David has vivid memories of his CASA volunteer it’s because she was the first stable adult in his life who was not paid to support him, and in his words was a “true friend.” David admits that at first he was skeptical and especially distrustful of women, but Linda proved herself by consistently showing up.
He reflects now:
“Linda was always there when I needed her. She made it very clear early on that it did not matter what time of day or night, I just had to call her and she would be there. She helped me by listening to the troubles or doubts I was feeling and, when necessary, helped me verbalize those to the appropriate individuals so a change could take place." David was in and out of the homeless shelter four or five times and changed placements often. He shares his CASA volunteer’s role during this unstable time: “She would be the first to respond when I needed a ride out of a bad placement. She would always show up ready to help me move and didn't try to convince me to staysomewhere I didn't feel safe or comfortable.”
CASA volunteers receive training from legal, child development
and welfare professionals, and have Advocate Supervisors to advise them on all aspects of their cases.
You know someone like Linda. You’ve seen her at your book club, maybe she taught your children — or perhaps you know her from the grocery store. She is a CASA volunteer — a carefully screened, trained, and supervised member of your community who commits 12- 15 hours a month to her case. She connects with David, investigates his situation, and makes recommendations to the court on his behalf. She has an Advocate Supervisor who helps her navigate the system and is always there for her- much like Linda is there for David.
David remembers Linda, the retired English teacher, for her blunt style and high standards. “She’d say ‘a B is good but why didn’t you get the A?’ She knew I could do better. She knew I wanted the A . . .she would drive me to and from opposite ends of the county two or three times a week when I had night classes during high school. She never requested any help or thanks; she was just glad she could be a positive influence in my life and help me achieve a higher education."
Independent research shows that children with CASA volunteers do better in school.
David, at one time two years behind in school, graduated from high school with honors and went on to earn a B.A. in Psychology. He eventually moved in with a close friend’s family who remain his family today, and he kept contact with Linda until she passed away when he was in junior college. David is now happily married with a successful career.
How many “Davids” might there be in SLO County? Coping with drug and alcohol addicted parents, homeless,sleeping on bike trails, unable to live up to their potential? How many “Lindas” are in our community, ready to commit their time and open their hearts? Your donation funds the recruitment, training, supervision and support of volunteers like Linda, ensuring that more children like David can receive the gift of a CASA. A donation of $2,200 supports advocacy for one child for one year. This holiday season, consider giving another abused or neglected child a voice. Any size gift helps, and you can make a tax deductible donation by clicking the DONATE NOW link below.
On behalf of CASA and the children we serve, please accept our wishes for a wonderful holiday season and happy new year.