I love challenges. I did well in school, got an advanced degree, traveled the world, and got married. Then everything changed…….I had kids! Everything else became secondary. I thought of child rearing as a profession and as an act of love that demanded everything I could bring to it. I have no regrets. After getting 5 kids to ages 17, 20, 23, 26, & 28, I had more time and started looking for “the next step.” CASA presented itself to me and it was a perfect fit.
What is the most challenging part of being a CASA?
One of the more frustrating parts for me is realizing that sometimes I want the change and improved lifestyle more than the parents do.
What is the most meaningful event of your time as a CASA?
Meaningful events happen just about every time I’m with the children I’m advocating for. Last week, I had an especially challenging outing with a 4-year-old boy whose behavior reflects his feelings of abandonment and confusion. I took his drink away from him in the car because he was flicking his juice-filled straw in my clean car. He was sadly surprised because he was not used to structure. I told him I’d return his drink to him when we got to grandma’s house. After leaving him on the porch with her and walking to my car at the end of the block, he yelled, “Ms. Debbie! You forgot to give my drink back!” So I walked his drink to him and returned to my car. Again he yelled, “Ms. Debbie! Ms. Debbie!” When I turned to look at him, he yelled, “I love you!” I think I cried as I drove away.
What are some of your strongest beliefs about CASA?
There is a story about an old man who would walk a vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see. He would pick up starfish as he walked and throw them back into the ocean so the afternoon sun would not kill them. When someone asked, “Why are you doing this? There are tens of thousands of starfish here. You won’t be able to make a difference.” The man picked one up, threw it back into the ocean, and replied, “It made a difference to that one.”
This is how I feel about CASA. So many children are waiting for CASA volunteers to advocate for them. Their lives get so complicated. Their issues are many. Drugs in our community are everywhere. But I can make a small difference to some of these children and I choose to do so.
What would you say to someone considering becoming a CASA?
Being a CASA has been humbling for me. Being a party to the case means I get to know all the particulars of the usually atypical complex life story. The seriousness with which the judge listens to a CASA’s assessment can be overwhelming. There is much at stake for these kids and I want to get it right. But all this responsibility means there is great possibility to create a positive change.
What is something we would be surprised to know about you?
I performed in the halftime show of Superbowl XX in New Orleans as a member of Up With People.
What do you like to do when you aren’t volunteering as a CASA?
Of course, my husband and kids are my life. It seems there is never a time when one of them can’t use a mom. I also love to garden. I live on 17 acres so there is always a ‘next’ project in the yard and garden. I have also coached middle school and high school volleyball and continue to help out with local teams.