Let me start by telling you a bit about myself. I am a 65-year-old man with a wife, two grown children and two young grandchildren. I am passionate about spending time with my family, traveling and recreational sports including running, hiking, and swimming.
My career has been spent at Arizona State University, providing management oversight over technical solutions to enhance student experience and support administrative functions. However, the aspect of my job that brings me the most satisfaction has been mentoring and coaching student interns. Seeing bright and energetic minds grow professionally as they pursue a college degree and supporting their career development is rewarding.
My father passed away suddenly from an illness when I was ten years old. He left behind my mother, four boys with ages ranging from five to twelve, and a business in crisis that left the family with financial challenges. My Mom re-married a couple of years later and my step-father had a strong influence on me in my childhood. He brought with him such a strong sense of patience and love – after all, he was a single man suddenly immersed into a house of adolescent boys. This had a profound and lasting impact on my life. As a child, I loved my summers when I would go away to summer camp; for many years in northern Wisconsin and then later in the mountains of Colorado. I grew to love the western United States and adventures backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park. This triggered a strong passion for recreation, adventure, travel, and the outdoors that has stuck with me to this day.
After more than 30 years of professional experience and impending plans to step back into semi-retirement, I sought a meaningful volunteer opportunity supporting youth. With no legal background or experience working with foster children, I was compelled to check out the role of being a Court Appointed
Special Advocate (CASA). As a CASA, I found I would have the opportunity to get to know, be-friend, and advocate on behalf of children that have suffered abuse or neglect in a home situation. As I spoke to friends who were familiar with the role of a CASA, and after a conversation with my mother in which I learned that my step-father had served as a CASA, this opportunity got my attention and interest.
Serving as a CASA has been tremendously rewarding to me personally and professionally. I consider myself to be very fortunate to have good health, a stable family background and an income source that has enabled me to provide for myself and my family. I have now served as a CASA for three years and am
currently on my fourth case. My first three resulted in satisfactory reunification with biological parents. I have
experienced children that have had significant trauma during their youth, but such strong potential and bright minds. I have seen children that have a strong bond and love for their parents, regardless of the uncertainty and difficult situations that they have been exposed to. If we don’t support and advocate for
these youth, I fear what will happen to them when they reach adulthood.
I have so much hope for these kiddos. They deserve a quality experience in their youth and opportunity to excel in school, participate in extracurricular activities and know with confidence that they have someone looking out for them that cares. A dedicated CASA can break through barriers and be
supportive of these youth in ways that the busy professionals on the cases are unable to do so.
In closing, I want to share a couple of stories that have been impactful to me during my time as a CASA. A young man I had advocated for was suddenly removed from a foster home after an altercation. He landed in a temporary shelter and I went to visit him the same day. When he saw me, he ran to the door and
hugged me and said, “I was so scared that I would never see you again.” Another incident is the high school student I advocate for who joined me for parent teacher conferences recently. This kiddo remarked to me, “no one has ever cared enough to attend parent teacher conferences with me.” These are the stories that
convince me that as a CASA, I can make a substantial difference in a child’s life and keep me engaged as a CASA for many years to come.