Last year, close to 400 children were impacted by abuse or neglect in Porter County alone. Instead of making happy family memories and playing with neighborhood friends, the majority of these children were adjusting to new foster homes because their families were in crisis. That’s a heavy burden for a child to carry.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, and are volunteers who are trained to advocate for children in the court system whose involvement is by no fault of their own. With a CASA volunteer dedicated to their case, our community’s most vulnerable children have someone speaking up for their best interests. In training, CASA volunteers learn to listen first, then act to give a voice to a child’s needs. Our CASA volunteers are regular citizens that come from all walks of life and include educational professionals, retirees, stay-at-home-moms, legal professionals, small business owners, and nurses, just to name a few. What connects all of these individuals is a strong desire to help children in need.
Recently, Porter County CASA began our first volunteer training session of 2018. With so many different opportunities available to give back we wanted to hear from the trainees what drew them to CASA volunteering. Annie Gonzalez expressed that she chose to volunteer after witnessing, first hand, a case where a child was endangered.
“It broke my heart,” she noted, “I want to make sure that I can help be one positive spot in what I imagine is a scary process.”
As a parent of a child with special needs, Patty Johnson reflected on the many times she needed to advocate for her daughter. She believes that “children need someone outside of their family to advocate for them when child protection situations arise. My passion is to help others, especially those who don’t have the opportunity or ability to do so themselves.”
When the new trainees were asked what they were looking forward to in their CASA volunteering, Linda Hornyak hoped “to have positive impact on a child’s life” and “be a true advocate.” This sentiment was shared by many of the trainees. Kathy Madden noted that she hoped “to be able to make a difference in the lives of children who are going through a scary and stressful time.” Paris Buslon commented that, “These kids aren’t given the leg up that so many of us have, and if I can make a difference and help them in any way I can, that will be the best reward.” In looking to the future, Rita Cantwell expressed that she was hoping to “help a child have a better life; a healthy and safe life.”
Valparaiso, IN 46383
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