A lot of different people become advocates. The minimum age for volunteering as an advocate at Boone County CASA is 21. This is for multiple reasons including but not limited to the strict confidentiality restrictions, the need for transportation, as well the legal ability to take on the mantel of ‘officer of the court.’ However, CASA welcomes those of a younger adult age to volunteer as a Friend of CASA.
Who is Boone County CASA’s average advocate? The average advocate is female, has parented at one time herself, and about 40 years old. The average advocate also works at a paying job. Yet, not everyone is the ‘average’ advocate. Instead, each advocate has their own unique story, voice, and reason for becoming a CASA. This is the reason Boone County CASA’s acceptance process includes a personal interview. We want to know their stories, hear their voices, and understand the drive to reach out to hurt children. We have advocates who are retired, who are getting their degrees, and who are foster parents themselves. We are proud to count individuals from the education field, the medical field, and lawyers who volunteer their time to visit children in their foster placements as some of our wonderful guardian ad litems along with many others from many different walks of life.
The things they all have in common are harder to see and quantify. They are a giving spirit, a patience for dealing with struggles and sometimes repeated misunderstandings. It is a sense of right and wrong that is strong and yet does not present itself as hatefulness or judgement. It is a listening ear, an eye for details, and loyalty to a bigger, sometimes abstract, cause. Most importantly though, it is a sense of hope. It is the ability to see an abused, lonely, or hurting child and hope that, while seeing the world from this child’s reality, it will get better. Maybe it won’t be perfect. Maybe Johnny* will never be a straight A student or Laura* will never be able to be adopted. However it is keeping a lantern of hope lit for these children that they will be able to love, to function, to see that the world isn’t only full of pain and sacrifice. Maybe Johnny will be able to get the IEP he’s always needed and raise his reading comprehension. Laura? Maybe she will be able to go into Transitional Living and learn to budget her money and be self sufficient. Who knows? Either could even go on to be the voice of change and a leader in an organization like Foster Youth in Action.
We are always in awe of our advocates’ ability to maintain hope. Also, we truly believe that they provide a ray of hope to the children they serve, the families who they see get put back together or made anew.
“Who are you, beautiful creature?” inquired Pandora.
“I am to be called Hope!” answered the sunshiny figure. “And because I am such a cheery little body, I was packed into the box to make up for that swarm of ugly Troubles which was to be let loose.”
“And will you stay with us,” asked Epimetheus, “for ever and ever?”
“As long as you need me,” said Hope, with her pleasant smile, “and that will be as long as you live in the world. I promise never to leave you. There may be times now and then when you will think that I have vanished. But again, and again, and again, when perhaps you least dream of my being with you, you shall see the glimmer of my wings.”- Nathaniel Hawthorne
Visit Boone County CASA at www.BooneCountyCASA.org.