The day I first met Rikki in the parking lot of a Motel 6, she effortlessly captured my heart. I had actually started to care about her even before that first meeting. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer preparing for my first case, I had read Rikki’s file. I knew she was 10, she was the third of five kids who had been removed from their mother due to neglect and drug abuse, and this was the third time she had been through this kind of upheaval in her short life. I knew that her father had died a year before. He had also been an addict, and like her mother, had been in and out of recovery.
A few months earlier, after a loss in my own life, I was looking for a way to match my time, energy and caring with a child or children in need. I didn’t know in what capacity…I just knew I was interested in helping children. While interviewing a young woman for a job, she mentioned her volunteer experience as a CASA. That serendipitous encounter led me to find Court Appointed Special Advocates in my town, where I subsequently completed 30 hours of training and a background check, and was sworn in as an officer of the court. The juvenile court judge asked us CASA volunteers to be his “eyes and ears” in the lives of kids in the child welfare system. I didn’t know then the power we were being given to alter these young people’s trajectories, to help them toward better, happier and healthier futures. (Read the full article at PsychAlive.)