1. What made you decide to become a CASA? While vacationing overseas some years back, I had witnessed children who should be in school selling various items on the streets and others just walking around without a future. It brought me to tears and when I got back, I asked from close associates how I could become a mentor or serve children in the community paying special attention to minorities. I was introduced to CASA by my in-law (now retired CPS supervisor) and I came to attend the class in 2011. I have been blessed with the kids I have encountered and God has blessed through CASA.
2. What is your professional/ volunteer background? I have been a Pharmacist for over 30 years and been of help counseling alcoholics and drug abusers/addicts. I have volunteered giving information about drugs of abuse and have written concerning street drugs. I have spoken to high schools concerning drugs of abuse. As a diaconate member in my church, I have mentored some of our youths in this area before joining CASA.
3. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a CASA? I would say that it is a blessing to give back to the community by helping someone different that yourself. To him whom much is given, much is desired. Also I know that person must love children and want to care for them as the future generation.
4. What has been the most challenging part of being a CASA? Researching the Child’s historical ties to others and trying to find those relatives has been a challenge for me. Sometimes, the phone numbers are incorrect and has not been updated in years.
5. What has been the most rewarding part of being a CASA? Witnessing a completed adoption or completed transfer of the child to a responsible relative.
6. Please share a special moment with us about your advocacy work with your CASA kid or on your case? A special moment for me was a case in 2012 when I had a 3 y/o whose mom and dad were incarcerated and the closest relative we had lived in Kenya. With CASA and CPS’s assistance, we persuaded the kid’s grandmother to obtain a visa and come to US. She stayed with a kin whose home was adjudged adequate to raise the child. After about 6 months, the granny was allowed with State Department assistance to cater for the child in Kenya and send reports. I was elated to hear about the approval and the child’s welfare.
7. Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself or the CASA experience? Nothing beats the joy of assisting a child during a difficult time in his/her life. Sometimes it can be very emotional.