Alma’s Volunteer Corner: Boundaries: Meet Alma

meet-alma

I prefer to give hugs rather than shake hands. I cry when I’m happy.  I laugh way too loud, often at the wrong time. It’s in my nature to wear my heart on my sleeve, and that’s what scared me about becoming a CASA volunteer.

I didn’t feel that my emotionally expressive nature would be the right fit for a CASA volunteer. I worried that I didn’t have the emotional grit necessary to hold it together when navigating the course of events that led to them being removed from their home.

meet-alma-sandI also didn’t have any formal experience with children or with our legal system – I was in advertising. So I drew a line in the sand.

I participated as a marketing volunteer on various committees, outreach efforts and fundraisers for CASA for years, but I never crossed that line. I knew how many children were in need in our community, and the impact a CASA volunteer had on giving those children a voice, but I was scared.

Late in 2012, my friend, Mo, encouraged me to apply to the CASA volunteer training with her and to trust that the screening process would filter me out if I wasn’t an appropriate candidate. It was a serious application process that consisted of a phone interview, written application, background check, references and an in-person interview. I didn’t even make it halfway through the interview questions before I was blowing through a box of tissues. At that moment, I was sure that if there was an “emotional stability” score for this interview, I had failed.

Line confirmed.

“I didn’t even make it halfway through the interview questions before I was blowing through a box of tissues. At that moment, I was sure that if there was an ’emotional stability’ score for this interview, I had failed.”

The following week, I found out that I was accepted into the 2013 Winter CASA University training group. There were no more lines! What do I do? I was still extremely worried that I wouldn’t know how to do this important work with my limited experience with kids and in the legal system.

During training, I expressed my concern with boundaries. I needed tools to help me serve CASA kids but I also needed tools to help me protect myself emotionally. CASA volunteers are given very clear boundaries as to what they can and cannot do. We are given numerous avenues for support and resources for self-care because this is tough stuff. Knowing where the line is drawn when it comes to my duties as a CASA volunteer has been one of the main reasons I completed the training and pursued this role.

I have had my case for 10 months and I’ve yet to need a tissue.