by Emily Ostrowski
YWCA Clark County would be nothing without our volunteers. We feel an enormous sense of pride and gratitude for all of our program volunteers that give their time, energy and compassion so selflessly to help aid many of the most vulnerable members of our community.
This year our Clark County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program is celebrating its 35 year anniversary, and as a way to commemorate the program’s longevity we’d like to take some time to shine the spotlight on several volunteers who advocate for children in our community, and celebrate the work that they have done.
How long have you been a CASA?
What first inspired you or got you interested in the CASA program?
I had stopped at the YWCA one day looking for a different volunteer program. I found a CASA pamphlet, and I was stunned to read that children in foster care have no advocate in the court system. I knew then that I this was what I wanted to do.
How many cases do you usually work per year?
One per year, occasionally two.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a CASA?
There is nothing more gratifying than to have a child return to his or her parents, especially when the parents have worked hard to turn their life around. For a child who has suffered the trauma of abuse or neglect, it is wonderful to be a part of placing them in a safe and loving home.
What is the most difficult aspect of being a CASA?
The frustration that comes with failed adoptions One sibling group went through three failed adoptions, through no fault of their own, until they either aged out or remained in permanent foster care. It is hard to see a child that has already experienced such trauma be rejected because of circumstances beyond their control.
What advice would you give new volunteers or those considering becoming a CASA?
Be patient with the legal system and social workers as the workload is heavy. Focus on the child and their needs. It takes at least two years, sometimes more, for a dependency to be resolved. So it does take time. Also it’s important to know that the support from the CASA Program Specialists is wonderful! They are there to assist with your case every step of the way.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering as a CASA?
I am retired. I enjoy photography, outdoor activities, gardening, and cross-stitching. Grabbing coffee with friends, and spending time with my grandchildren are favorites!
We thank Avonna for sharing her experiences with us, and for her dedication to the CASA program and the children she advocates for! Stay tuned for more featured interviews with CASA volunteers throughout the next few weeks.
Click here to learn more about our CASA Program, and how to apply to be a volunteer!