Alma’s Volunteer Corner: Advocate Support

June25When people find out you are a CASA volunteer, they often express their gratitude for your advocacy or they reflect on how “strong” or you are because they couldn’t handle dealing with the unfortunate situations and issues that face your CASA kids. I used to be like that.

I thought that the situations would be too hard and too scary and too unfathomable for me to handle. So I praised from afar. I worried I would fall apart and break and be a waste of a volunteer space. But I didn’t. Not only was I prepared by the CASA volunteer training, but I also have an amazing support system outside of CASA.

In addition to my Peer Coordinator Helen and our CASA team members who meet monthly, I am also very lucky to have the support of my boss, Rod Miles, who is a former CASA board member, and my coworkers at Cappelli Miles. We even hold our CASA team meetings in my office.

I have a wonderful partner who supports me. He very familiar with the impact being a CASA has on a child because he was a CASA volunteer when he was in college in Oklahoma City. He understands when I need my quiet time to work on a court report or read through a stack of discovery.

My little sister is my biggest cheerleader. She inspires me and encourages me to push beyond my boundaries but still tries to help me keep them in check. She was a little concerned with some of the emotional aspects of this work – that was a big part of hesitation to becoming a volunteer ­– but she supported me when I told her that I trust the screening process to filter me out if I’m not a good fit.

That trust in the process was thanks to a fellow volunteer, and my CASA training classmate, Mo Young. In 2012, she shared that she was applying to be a volunteer and I told her I was interested too but gave the MANY reasons why I was sure CASA would not pick me and why I wasn’t a good fit…excuse after excuse after excuse. The truth was, I was scared. Scared for me, scared for the kids and generally scared of the unknown. Mo reminded me that CASA has been doing this for some time now. She said, “trust that they will filter you out if you aren’t a good fit.”

I am rich beyond measure with support from so many others, but these are the people who have had a direct impact on my decision to become a CASA volunteer ­– they are the ones who should be praised. And while I appreciate the gratitude people have for what I do, what I would really like is for them to consider becoming a volunteer and show kids what it means to have a strong support system.