CASA Volunteers as we all know have the biggest hearts. They do things that I’ve never seen volunteers do anywhere else. I was talking to a person just yesterday and the first thing he noted was how committed the volunteers are to the children on their case. Indeed, the level of commitment CASA Volunteers have stands out to anyone encountering the program for the first time. It’s truly the program’s greatest strength. What’s even more important is how much CASA Volunteers do for children who don’t understand why they are doing it! Many of the children don’t really get what this strange adult is doing in their life. Many might not ever know. Personally, I don’t take it for granted.
There are many things CASA Volunteers genuinely enjoy about their experience. Obviously, helping kids is number one on the list. CASA Volunteers also like visiting the children on their case and helping them with many different things. They like going places when they can. Some people even like the various meetings and offering their input at critical points in time. Many CASA Volunteers I talk to genuinely like going to court, being listened to by the judge, and making a difference. They like playing a role in the court process and being the voice for the child.
CASA Volunteers do many things and wear many different hats. They also have a very formal side that involves keeping track of important dates and appointments—things like doctor’s appointments and school meetings. They track what was discussed at a particular meeting and what the outcome of the last court hearing was. Organizing information is a major function of any CASA Volunteer and when I present on what a CASA Volunteer does I often say it requires a “head and a heart.” We truly need both to be an effective advocate. That’s a lot of different things, and I don’t take that requirement lightly.
Now this leads me to an important discussion—a discussion about Technology. As we all know, technology is important. Yet, if you are like me, you probably have a mixed relationship with it. We appreciate what technology can do in the world of medicine, or travel, but sometimes it is just too intrusive in our personal lives. I also know that managing information can sometimes be a bit of a chore and it pales in comparison to pushing a kid on a swing or playing a little basketball! But it’s so important that we use all the tools available to us in order to help children.
We’ve recently trained all of our CASA Volunteers to use our online database, Optima. I know for a fact that it’s not on the top of some people’s lists. It’s not their favorite CASA hat to wear. But it is so important to the well-being of the program. It’s also important to each case. For example, I’m hoping to have some people from Denver Public Schools come in and do a training. It’s important to them to know a little bit about the children we serve ahead of time so that they can provide a relevant and focused training for us. It’s the database that really allows us to create something meaningful for the CASA Volunteers. Using Optima, will also help each person write their court reports as well.