17 Jul Turning 33
What do you celebrate? Most of us celebrate significant events and milestones. We celebrate births, engagements, weddings, graduations, promotions, and other major life events. We celebrate Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, and Thanksgiving. We recently celebrated Juneteenth more collectively than ever before and this year we celebrate 100 years of Women’s Right to Vote.
Here at Pulaski County CASA we are celebrating a pretty significant event this month – our program turning 33 years old! That’s older than many of our Volunteer Advocates. It is a definite cause for celebration. In 33 years, Pulaski County CASA has served almost 6200 children who entered the foster care system due to abuse of neglect. Hundreds of Advocates have volunteered their time over the past 33 years to speak up for the best interests of children. So many people have put their heart and soul into our organization, and we celebrate each of their contributions.
Many people celebrate smaller things that hold personal significance. First steps, a good grade on a test, their team making it to the playoffs. They celebrate achieving things they work and strive for like a college acceptance or a year of sobriety.
CASA Advocates often get to join in on those types of celebrations with the children and families we work with. We celebrate the accomplishments of the children we are sworn to advocate for – those first steps, and grades, and team wins, and so many other things. We celebrate the parent’s successes as they maintain sobriety, move into homes, complete parenting classes, or get new jobs. Those accomplishments are so important and deserve to be celebrated too.
One of our favorite things to celebrate is the reunification of families. There is nothing better than seeing a family be strengthened and reunified. When that cannot happen, we celebrate permanency in other forms like children being placed with relatives and in other cases, children finding forever families through adoption.
The work of CASA Advocates can be extremely rewarding but also exceedingly difficult and heart-wrenching too. It can be vital to stop and reflect on all the things there are to celebrate – both big and small.
It’s easy to pull some of the big numbers to see that 33 years has provided almost 6200 children with a dedicated Court Appointed Special Advocate to visit with them, to learn about them, and to speak up and stand up for their best interests. Last year alone, Pulaski County CASA served over 266 children. There were 126 Volunteer CASA Advocates that provided over 7,344 hours of service on behalf of those children with an economic impact of $165,607.00 to Pulaski County.
What does that look like when you zoom in closer?
It is a Volunteer Advocate spending hours digging through records to find documentation of a child’s grades that did not get correctly reported a few years ago. For that child, it was walking across a stage and getting the diploma she earned that was in jeopardy because of lack of documentation.
It is a Volunteer Advocate arranging a time to come by the CASA office (that isn’t open to the public due to COVID-19) to ensure she can pull gifts from the gift closet. So, she can then drive more than an hour to make sure a child knows they are remembered on their birthday.
It is a Volunteer Advocate going to hospitals and doctors’ offices to gather records on a child so that DCFS will be able to begin adoption efforts and the child will be able to have permanency after more than 2 years in foster care.
It is a Volunteer Advocate recommending a parent receive a service that will make it more likely she will be able to reunite her family and encouraging that same parent when she is overwhelmed.
It is a CASA Advocate having lunch with a second grader at school (back when that was possible) and being introduced as “my person”.
It is the hundreds and thousands of little and big things that Volunteer CASA Advocates do on a regular basis to fulfill their sworn duties as Court Appointed Special Advocates.
So, we encourage you to help us celebrate all the big and small accomplishments we have seen and been a part of through CASA. Join us this month in celebrating 33 years of Pulaski County CASA – have a cupcake, eat some ice cream, or maybe even become a Court Appointed Special Advocate yourself! Because all we want for our birthday, is to be able to serve even more children.