By Joy Moton | Staff Writer
Children who suffer traumatic experiences often find themselves enduring the pains and struggles of being bounced around the foster system. In the midst of an environment that makes them feel unwanted and misplaced, children are able to find hope with an organization designed to assist them.
CASA (The Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) is an organization established to advocate for children who go through the foster system.
Because the foster system is so dense and Child Protective Services often works with a multitude of cases at a time, children can feel as if they are going through the process alone. CASA volunteers work with attorneys, social workers and child protective services workers to effectively find loving homes for children.
Volunteers also go through training and receive resources to build relationships with children, so they can communicate the child’s desires to officials that make decisions regarding the child’s future.
Mindi Masten, director of volunteers and community outreach, said volunteering provides the gift of being able to see children grow into successful adults.
“While the work is not always easy and not always sunshine and roses, the work you do as a CASA volunteer directly impacts what will happen in this child’s life as they navigate the giant, scary foster care system,” Masten said.
CASA volunteer Gracie Wood said volunteering has rewarded her with the opportunity to see life from other perspectives.
“It’s really valuable experience because it gives you a glimpse of a world that most of us were lucky to have never known,” Wood said.
“Volunteers often still hear from the children that they helped while they were in foster care- receiving graduation announcements, marriage invitations and just wanting to stay connected in a simple text message conversation,” Masten said. “We pride ourselves as being the constant person in a foster child’s life.”
CASA McLennan and Hill Counties will hold an interest meeting for students who are interested in making an impact on children’s lives as a volunteer. The interest meeting will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. March 28 at the CASA offices, 2223 Austin Ave., Suite D.
Wood, who has volunteered for three years, said college students should not allow the fact that they might not spend their lives in Waco to keep them from making a difference in a child’s life.
“Even though most of us aren’t planning to stay in Waco, CASA is an organization where you can impact a kid for the rest of their lives,” Wood said.
For more information about CASA and its mission, visit www.texascasa.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have to step up for these children. They are our future, and they deserve the very best life has to offer,” Masten said. “Please use your voice, time and passion for children to make sure they get what they deserve.”