Alma’s Volunteer Corner: Volunteering, Emotions & Winnie the Pooh

Oct9When my role as a CASA volunteer comes up in discussions, people are quick to share the reasons they cannot be advocates for children in foster care. We fear committing more to our already busy schedules, or becoming too attached to the child, or for our physical, and/or emotional safety. They remind me of characters from Winnie the Pooh:

Kanga: “I would just end adopting the kids myself.”

Rabbit: “I just don’t have the time right now.”

Eeyore: “I am just too emotional and I cannot handle dealing with the issues facing these kids. I’d cry all the time.”

Piglet: “These are serious issues. Will I be safe? Oh, D-D-Dear,”

Batman: “I worry I would take the law into my own hands.” (Ok, I had to switch stories and move to superheroes. There are no vigilantes in Winnie the Pooh.)

I had the same concerns when I was deciding to become a CASA. They are natural and to be expected but I can tell you the fear of the unknown was much bigger in my head than it is in reality. Once I went through training, all of these worries were addressed.

Screening

Potential CASA volunteers go through a screening process that helps determine if they are the right fit for this important work. And rightfully so. We’re working with children, we’re dealing with sensitive information and we are the eyes and the ears of the judge so we must be appropriate representatives. If you’re worried you’re like Batman, trust that the CASA team will determine if they need to filter you out. There’s only one Batman and that’s the judge. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

Training

Once through the screening process, CASA volunteers go through 40 hours of training. This process helps CASA and the potential volunteer determine if this is a good fit. Training also provides information on self-care and finding balance with your schedule and your emotions. There are clear expectations and boundaries. You’re given report templates and guidelines. It’s super organized and structured. Once you know exactly what your role is as a CASA volunteer, it will be easier to deal with your internal Kanga, Eeyore, Piglet & Rabbit.

Team Support

Next to helping my CASA kid, this is by far the main reason I feel I can continue to be a CASA volunteer. I have a team that consists of my supervisors, my Peer Coordinator and my fellow CASAs. There are six of us and we meet regularly to discuss our cases and to share challenges and successes. But mainly, we support each other so that we can be the best advocates possible for our CASA kids.

The truth is, we need the help of everyone who lives in the Hundred Acre Wood to serve kids in Lane County. We need people who care like Kanga, who can plan and organize like Rabbit, and who understand what it’s like to be scared, like Piglet & Eeyore because how else will they relate to a scared kid? And maybe even people who are angry that kids are in these positions and want to do something about it – like Batman, but they need to harness it in a positive direction.

Your Peer Coordinator and Program Supervisor team are like Tigger and Owl. They will always be available to support you and answer your questions and they will be your biggest cheerleaders.

If you are considering volunteering, I challenge you to take the first step by contacting Robben Lyons at [email protected] or calling (541) 868-3083.