“CASA has made a big difference in the years since it was founded in Hampden County. The unique part of the program is that the volunteer is there to only speak for the child in the court system. Other parties may be making decisions about the child’s future, but they may not be listening to what the children themselves have to say.
There are already a number of people from the legal system involved in the child’s case. Having a CASA volunteer who comes from outside this system offers an alternative view that is very valuable in making my decisions.
A CASA volunteer can also find gaps in the services that are being provided. Sometimes an agency by itself cannot see if it is providing all the services each child needs. The CASA volunteer is another set of eyes and ears to advocate that every child receives the most appropriate services we can give them.”
-Judge Rebekah Crampton-Kamukala
Founder of CASA of Hampden County
“I became a CASA because I felt that I needed to do something in my life that was truly worthwhile. I felt a desire to help people and I needed to find an outlet for that desire. I had done other volunteer work in the past, but I needed to find something that held some genuine, personal meaning for me. CASA was a good fit. I understand the pain these children are feeling. As a CASA I can stand up for them and be their advocate when they really need it most.
When I was assigned to Kailyn’s (not her real name) case she was not attending school and hadn’t for well over a year. She was several years behind academically. Where as most people (including those at her school) generally saw Kailyn as a ‘problem child,’ I saw a lot of potential in her. She was dealt a very difficult life and was trying to deal with that while struggling with her studies and a very unforgiving staff. Many staff members seemed to speak only of Kailyn’s negative qualities instead of trying to focus on the good they could see in her.
I think it helped Kailyn just to have someone so actively involved in her life. Before I started working with her I don’t believe she ever had a steady, constant support system. It was important for her to see that someone was truly invested in her life. I think my contribution to Kailyn was giving her a sense of hope.
Being a CASA is really important work. Of course it can be daunting at times because it can take so much time to get things accomplished. It’s hard work! It can be very rewarding though too. In the end, what matters most is that you have helped a child and possibly changed their life. In the end, you’ve really made a difference.”
-Shannon, a CASA Volunteer