We want to thank Mary Ann Dixon for being a dedicated CASA Volunteer for 15 years. Mary Ann just closed her 28th case and is retiring from advocacy!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
My husband and I met just after I graduated from UNT. I worked as a computer programmer and later as a systems analyst while he pursued a career in psychology. We are both native Texans and have been married 54 years with 7 children and 19 grandchildren, all living in Texas, which makes for boisterous get-togethers! We are actively involved in our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
2. What made you decide to become a CASA 15 years ago?
I was introduced to CASA by my sister, who was a CASA in Austin. Her enthusiasm for CASA persuaded me. I would definitely recommend a friend to volunteer with CASA. Three of my friends have done so. By volunteering you will be doing something that is really needed -- whatever your skills.
3. What has been the most challenging part of being a CASA?
I think the most challenging aspect of "CASA-ing" has been doing a case thoroughly-- the time constraints and keeping up with all the aspects of the case, learning to balance family requirements with volunteering. Also, of course, keeping gas in my gas tank!
4. What has been the most rewarding part of being a CASA?
I especially enjoyed the years I have worked in Family Drug Court. l like being able to work as a part of a team, problem solving and assisting each other, and working more closely with parents. I feel like I have become more empathetic and have witnessed firsthand problems that come with addiction, homelessness and lack of family support. I've learned about resources and problem-solving techniques from professionals and CASAs on our team.
5. Please share a special moment(s) with us about your advocacy work.
Some of the highlights of my service have been: getting to work with a group of six siblings, 5 years and younger, and also working with 6 sets of twins! My most memorable case was one of 3 siblings who I worked with for 7 years, following them in many placements and ending with adoption 2 years ago. I considered it a real compliment when I was offered a garden snake by one little boy I had worked with for several years.
6. Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself or your CASA experience?
Another bonus of volunteering with CASA is the positive effect it has on your family, making them more aware of their blessings and of the suffering near at hand in our community. GO CASA!!
“Yvonne’s life was turned upside down when her daughter Elizabeth was put into foster care. Yvonne was in the throes of drug addiction during her pregnancy, and Elizabeth tested positive for drugs at birth. Yvonne was devastated and heartbroken. However, she did not give up hope: she was determined to change her life and bring her children home. Elizabeth’s CASA Mary Ann stepped in at the perfect time. She was able to help not only Elizabeth but also Elizabeth’s mother. “Mary Ann had a family of her own and knew the struggles of raising kids. She seemed to truly understand the things that I was going through,” recalled Yvonne. Despite the stress she experienced, Yvonne was optimistic and focused, often relying on her CASA volunteer’s guidance. Mary Ann was proud Yvonne’s hard work in following her treatment plan, and Yvonne was thankful for the consistency a CASA provided her daughter. Yvonne achieved sobriety, attended parenting classes, and eventually was able to bring her daughter Elizabeth home. Elizabeth and Yvonne’s success involved her entire community. Yvonne had family support and was empowered by her child’s CASA volunteer. CASA volunteer Mary Ann helped Yvonne find the strength to speak up for her own child.”