Personal experience created a spark, but changing lives is what fuels Mo Young’s passion for volunteering with CASA. Mo’s mother was on the Board of Directors for CASA in the late 90’s, so as a young person she was aware of how important the organization is and how it helps kids in her community.
As an adult, when Mo and her family decided to adopt a child through the foster care system, they had the pleasure of working with a CASA from Portland. Now Mo is paying it forward for other children and creating an example for her own daughter, like her mother did when she was a child.
Who is Mo Young?
Mo is a mom who works full time for Lane County Public Health as a community health analyst coordinating with community partners to reduce youth substance abuse in Eugene & Springfield. She also does equity and inclusion work for Lane County.
Mo also volunteers with Community Alliance of Lane County and the parent organization at her daughter’s school. She cans hundreds of pounds of produce each summer and quilts. And this month she celebrates her 2 year anniversary as a CASA volunteer.
She is a busy gal.
Why did Mo become a CASA volunteer?
Mo says, “I felt like giving back was important. Being a CASA would help other kids like that nice CASA helped my daughter while she was in foster care. I feel like it’s a really tangible way to help someone, and it’s longer term than other volunteer opportunities. It’s a way to change someone’s life for the better.”
How much time does Mo spend on her case?
Typically, Mo spends up to 20 hours a month on her case, depending if there’s a court report or a Citizen Review Board hearing.
How does Mo find time to balance work/life/volunteering balance?
Mo says, “With my calendar. My life looks really busy but really it’s just well planned out. When you plan a meeting three weeks in advance and you get to that week and it’s busy, you make it work. Also, boundaries. I’m home 6 out of 7 nights a week to have dinner with my family. I try to make all my phone calls during my work breaks during the day. I write my emails at night after my daughter is asleep.”
What does Mo feel is the most rewarding part of being a CASA volunteer?
For Mo, helping the child she represents to get stability to the best of her ability is the most rewarding part of being a CASA. She says, “Because of the training CASA provides, we have lots of support. We get to have an opinion based on our understanding on the case. Also, times like when my CASA kiddo painted my nails and I got to show off my manicure for an entire week. It looked terrible. I loved it. These kids have been through so much, and we, as their CASAs, get to help them just be a kid.”
What advice does Mo have for interested volunteers?
- Visit the CASA website and find out more.
- Get the real story. If you have a friend who’s a CASA, take them to coffee and learn more. Mo says, “We have a lot of ideas in our heads about how things are, so get the real story from someone who knows.”
- You are not alone trying to navigate this system. There’s a lot of structural support in CASA. For example, Mo had to be on the east coast at the same time as her CASA kids’ court hearing. She wrote the court report and her supervisor attended the hearing.
- There’s a case for everyone. There are children who are different ages, in different stages of life and who have experienced different kinds of abuse and neglect. There’s a need for every kind of strength from all kinds of volunteers.