Our Former Executive Director, Megan

Megan Mondays: The Next Chapter

Posted by CASA on August 31, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

megan-mondays2My morning alarm goes off, I sit up in bed and as my feet hit the floor I know whether I am ready to take on the day or if it is going to be a struggle. As I start my way downstairs, I begin to think about what is on my “plate” for the day. Appointments, meetings, reports, phone calls, etc. Is the day going to be typical, special or challenging? Is it a “mission impossible day” or one “full of possibilities?” I learned early on my journey with CASA that it was better if I chose to start my day with a positive outlook because most days the mission of CASA felt impossible.

I was really naïve about the plight of children, the struggles families faced and the dysfunction of the system when I joined the CASA staff 15 years ago. Newborn babies were being placed in foster care, teenagers were running from it and some children were dying before the state intervened. At times, it felt like things were happening at lightning speed in system that was cumbersome, confusing and wound tightly in red tape. Early on, I remember sitting at my desk feeling overwhelmed, disillusioned and defeated and then I met our CASA volunteers and all that changed.  Continue Reading…

Megan Mondays: Behind Every Number is a Child

Posted by CASA on June 8, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

numbers-151354_640A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to be a part of a panel presentation at the City Club of Eugene.  The topic was “Changing Lives in Juvenile Court.” The presenter included our juvenile court judge, a caseworker from child protective services and me.  I began my presentation with the statistics below because I believe they are a powerful and provide critical context to any conversation about child abuse.

I believe that by the time a child ends up on the doorsteps of a foster home there have been multiple failures of our systems, our community and the adults that are responsible for keeping children safe.  There is not a person or a specific system that bears the entire burden or blame.  This is everyone’s problem collectively and individually.  We are all responsible to keep all children safe.  We can and we must do better, before child protective services is called to intervene; and, then, we must do everything in our power to get children out of the system as quickly and as safely as possible. Educating ourselves about the realities of families who are struggling and/or unable to keep their children safe is critical.  It is also important to understand what happens when systems and support fail and children and youth end up in juvenile dependency court. Continue Reading…

Megan Mondays: Passing the Torch

Posted by CASA on May 18, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

megan-mondays2I have always said I would know when it was time to leave CASA.  I’ve determined that the time is now. After fifteen inspiring, challenging and meaningful years at the helm of CASA, it is time for me to move on.  It was a difficult decision to make because I LOVE CASA.  I love the mission and all the people who are committed to our community’s most vulnerable children.

And, it is difficult to leave because the work is not finished. There are still hundreds of children in Lane County that are caught in the bureaucratic system we call child protective services. They do not have the powerful voice of a Court Appointed Special Advocate.The burden of advocating for these children continues to weigh heavily on my shoulders and my heart.   Continue Reading…

The Buzz

Posted by CASA on April 27, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

beehiveI walked into work today and the office felt like a beehive of activity.  The energy level was through the roof and it was only 8:00 a.m.  When talking about CASA, I often say, “I need your time and/or your money.”  Ultimately, it is my responsibility to ensure we have the funds we need to support the mission and the volunteers we need to deliver the program.

Volunteers are a diverse group.  Some people want to be in the trenches. They make the commitment to CASA training and the subsequent ten to fifteen volunteer hours a month for at least two years.  These are the people who can give their time to be a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer.  They have big shoes to fill because they are the volunteers that carry out the critical mission of CASA, one case at a time.  They are the volunteers that people think about when they hear the word “CASA.”  Continue Reading…

Megan Mondays: Fostering Futures

Posted by CASA on April 6, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

lwejkjkloHelp. Support. Assist.  These words describe my daily intentions and my actions.  I believe I have a servant’s heart.  I want to help people.  I want to help make their lives better and alleviate their pain.  This all sounds well and good, but it can become a problem. The more emotionally connected you become to individuals you wish to help, the closer you can get to enabling the very behavior or lack of momentum on the part of the other person that is causing problems.  I often have to ask myself, “Have I arrived at a place in this relationship where I want something for them more than they want it for themselves?”   I find myself asking if I have as much control over reaching the desired outcome as I’d like to think I do. Continue Reading…

Megan Mondays: 702

Posted by CASA on March 17, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

702I like to know where I am headed, though I am flexible enough to adjust if the map doesn’t work.  Setting goals helps me “know” where I am going and, as Executive Director, I’ve worked to insure that CASA is very goal-oriented.  We set all kinds of goals:  volunteers recruited, trained and retained, children served, cases closed, funds raised and funds spent. Continue Reading…

Megan Mondays: Do You Know a CASA Volunteer?

Posted by CASA on February 23, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

Kid_w_CASAIt was just a chair lying on the sidewalk, but it sparked a conversation.  My husband, Mike, and I were sitting near the window at our favorite coffee shop one morning.  People were coming and going.  It was a great spot for watching people, but it was a chair that caught our attention.  A young man was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk and while attempting to navigate around all the obstacles, he knocked over the chair.  We were surprised when he just kept going and did not look back.  We were even more taken aback by what happened next… Continue Reading…

When I Grow Up

Posted by CASA on February 2, 2015 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

when_i_grow_upHave you ever met a person and thought, “When I grow up I want to be just like her/him?”  Though I am four years away from qualifying for the senior discount at my local grocery store, I have a person in my life that I sincerely wish to emulate.

My friend is 87 years old and her name is Mary Lee.  She was one of the first donor calls I made when I began working for CASA. We have been fast friends ever since.  She has strong opinions, but is very open-minded.  We are on opposite sides of the political aisle and we are avid supporters of rival football teams and we still get along!

Mary Lee is a life long learner, avid reader and stays BUSY!  It is hard for me to get on her social calendar between her book, bridge and theater clubs not to mention that she attends many of the university’s events and games.  It seems like she has a ticket to most happening things in town so she is never home. Though she is busy, her top priority outside of her family is helping children.

For over 40 years, Mary Lee has been an active member of the Assistance League of Eugene. It is a service club that runs a dental clinic for children, supplies new clothing and shoes for children from economically challenged families, provides “welcome home” baskets to families moving into low income housing etc.  Mary Lee has been at the center of all this work for so many years because she is has a tender heart for those in need and she chooses to do what she can to help people in our community.

I love her zest for life and commitment to others.  However, what I admire the most about Mary Lee is that she doesn’t act “old.” And, she never complains.  My life values reflect many of Mary Lee’s, but I think I need to work a little harder at not complaining.  Mary Lee is a person who never stops learning, changing and growing.

So, when I grow up, I want my friends and family to see someone a lot like Mary Lee. Who do you want to be like when you grow up?

Megan Mondays: Wherever You Go, There You Are

Posted by CASA on December 15, 2014 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

home (2)Have you ever considered that how you think of your place and space in the world affects the size of your goals, dreams and aspirations?  It had never crossed my mind until I had a conversation with my friend, Chris. Continue Reading…

Megan Mondays: Jump In and Stop Wading

Posted by CASA on December 8, 2014 Our Former Executive Director, Megan

girl-is-jumping-in-a-cold-waterI have had the privilege of professionally mentoring some remarkable, young women over the years.  I chuckle to myself when I agree to that role because I know I will end up learning just as much as they do.   Tiffany was a graduate student at the University of Oregon working towards her Masters degree when I first met her.  I immediately sensed she had “rock star “potential.  She was, energetic, smart, determined and a little silly.  The thing that struck me most about her though was that she had courage. Continue Reading…

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