When Charlene Campbell retired from teaching, her coworker suggested she would make a great CASA. Charlene had never heard of the CASA organization and mistakenly believed her coworker was speaking Spanish, saying she would make a wonderful house. After her friend elaborated, Charlene went home and researched the nonprofit for herself. “Without a doubt, I knew I wanted to be a CASA and immediately started the process. I began training in June of 2011, was appointed to my first case in July, and there’s been no looking back since.”
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates and is a national nonprofit organization with almost 1000 programs across the country. Abbie Foley, Development Director of CASA of Adams & Broomfield Counties, shares, “Our mission is to provide court-appointed volunteer advocacy for children and youth from the child welfare system, so every child can be safe, have a permanent home, and the opportunity to thrive.” Each year, there are approximately 1600 children with open abuse and neglect cases in Adams and Broomfield Counties, and currently, CASA is only able to serve 600 of those kids. Therefore, the organization welcomes new volunteers in order to serve more children.
Charlene is now in her eleventh year as a CASA volunteer and has advocated for nine children on seven cases. Prior to becoming a CASA, Charlene had never been to court or dealt with social services and had no idea about this difficult and important work. Charlene finds it extremely rewarding to make a difference in children's lives. “I can use my gifts, talents and skills to make one child’s experience a little easier. It’s very fulfilling to be the constant, familiar presence in their case, and to keep showing up. To see their relief when I arrive, and hear them say, ‘She’s here, my CASA is here.’”
Charlene shares for anyone considering becoming a CASA volunteer that “It’s the hardest, most rewarding work I’ve ever done in my life. By being a CASA, I feel a deep sense of pride as I become part of the child’s professional team.” Charlene appreciates that CASAs are not set apart as volunteers, but are respected by the court and considered part of the team, along with the child’s Guardian Ad Litem and Caseworker. Standing next to a child and telling them “This is tough, but we’ll get through it together,” is something Charlene does often. Although she says being a CASA can be difficult and emotional at times, she remembers in those moments, “If not me, then who?”
For more information on CASA or becoming a volunteer, please visit casa17th.org.