1. What made you decide to become a CASA?
Before I had ever heard of CASA and the wonderful work they do, there was always a sense of helplessness when I would hear terrible stories on the news of neglected children or the needs of foster care children. I knew I wanted to help but had no idea how and the scope just seemed so large it was hard to see how one person could make a difference. Enter a friend who invited me to her company’s fundraiser which was benefitting CASA. Once I learned what this incredible organization does, I knew this was exactly what I needed to do to help the kids of my community.
2. What is your professional/volunteer background?
I have been a makeup artist for sixteen years and a proud mom for seven.
3. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a CASA?
Go to an information session! Being a CASA volunteer isn’t for everyone but more people are suited for it than they might think. These children in care need someone who is a consistent presence, someone to speak up for their needs. It doesn’t take much time but can make all the difference in the trajectory of a child’s life. We can’t wait around and hope someone else will step in and help—it is up to us to get into the fray and do what we can to make our little part of the world a better place.
4. What has been the most challenging part of being a CASA?
Realizing firsthand the system isn’t perfect has been incredibly frustrating. Decisions are sometimes made without your child’s best interest in mind despite your best efforts.
5. What has been the most rewarding part of being a CASA?
There isn’t a better feeling in the world than your kiddo finally getting a forever home, whether that’s back home with his mom who has worked so hard to come back stronger and better than before or getting officially adopted by the family that has loved her like their own since the first day she came into their home as a tiny foster baby.
6. Is there anything else you would like to add about yourself or your CASA experience?Being a CASA for the past four years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am extraordinarily proud to be a part of this organization.
“Richelle is an exceptional CASA Advocate, she has been Advocating for more than 4 years. For the 7 months that I have been working with Richelle, I have admired the dedication that she has for the children. Richelle is a strong-willed person and does not hesitate to voice her concerns in court for the best interest of the children. As a Casework Supervisor I am fortunate to be working with an Advocate such as Richelle. “—Mayra Guzman, Casework Supervisor