Volunteer Voices

Voices from our Volunteers

CASA Advocate, Tim Bryant,
with his wife and two sons.

My name is Tim and I’ve been a CASA Advocate since 2010. 

My decision to become an Advocate was the last gift my dad gave to me. During his funeral service I witnessed numerous people who spoke about the impact he had on their lives. As I sat listening I knew that I wanted a legacy like his. After researching several volunteer opportunities I found CASA for Children of Essex County and I knew immediately that this would be the perfect opportunity for me.

I’ve worked on seven different cases and every case has had a challenge, but has taught me a valuable lesson. I met Malcom in 2012; he suffers from a severe mental illness inherited from his biological mother. Because of this, it can be difficult to complete tasks that will allow him to have a productive adulthood, but Malcolm never gives up. His persistence inspires me to keep moving forward.

Becoming an Advocate has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’m helping to change the life of a child, but truth be told, they’ve changed me! They reassure me that I’m doing the right thing even when they don’t heed my advice. Being a CASA has made me a better father, husband and friend. I’ve even picked up a few survival techniques for when my own children enter their teenage years. Listen closely and suppress your inner most thoughts. Just smile and nod! They’ll appreciate you more (and you can always tell them later that wasn’t the wisest idea)! Essex CASA is more than a volunteer project, it’s a major part of my life and it’s taught me to always value what’s important...Family!

My name is Shanee and I've been a CASA Advocate since 2014.

I grew up in a loving and nurturing home. But like many of the children that CASA works with, my childhood had it's dark moments. As an adult I became interested in CASA's work because it focuses on a population that I know from personal experience is incredibly vulnerable and too often voiceless.

I was assigned to work with two children, an 8 year-old girl and a 5 year-old boy. Their resource parent had been taking care of them for the past two years and was eager to adopt them both. But there isn't always a black and white picture of what is best for a child. In this case, their biological mother had never been abusive. Rather she had an intellectual disability. I cried at court when I heard the psychologist give testimony that despite all interventions, she did not possess the mental capacity to care for two children. Still, an appeal was filed and with the question of parental rights hanging in the balance, there could be no further talk of adoption or other plans for the future.

That was the first time I realized the gravity of our work as Advocates. Where will these children live? Who’s family are they a part of? Will they succeed in school? I knew that as a CASA Advocate, I could help make a positive difference in their lives. For example, one thing I’m really proud of was helping to get speech therapy services for the youngest child. Because of his mother and sister's disabilities, he had been exposed to very little conversation in his early childhood and had no speech patterns to mimic. I requested services twice at his old school where he was declined and then again at his new school. Finally services were put in place. It surprised me how powerful it can be when there’s someone there to double-check or make a simple follow-up call. That might be all it takes to help a child get on the right track.

As a CASA Advocate, we knock on doors, we send emails, we make phone calls. We talk with professionals, teachers, and family members. And all those little efforts add up to potentially life-changing events in a child’s life. I volunteer with CASA because foster children, just like anyone else, deserve to have a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation. And I believe that every small act of kindness does indeed give a hurting child back their voice.

Watch Shanee's speech from our 
2015 Ruby Red Shoe Ball fundraiser

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