Taking a trip to the zoo. Dressing up and going trick-or-treating. Window shopping at the local mall. These are just a few of the activities that parents do with their children. For a child in foster care, however, they often have no one to do these things with them.
That is where a CASA volunteer comes in. Not only do they advocate for the child, but they also give a foster child the best gifts of all: their time, their attention, and their care. In this volunteer spotlight we feature Christie Menning, a CASA from the Lower Shore program who has been volunteering since February of 2010. For the past 7 years Christie has provided children in need with a voice along with someone they can trust and confide in.
Christie’s current case is with a teenage girl, and she has been working with her for one year. The teenage years are difficult for anyone as they go through necessary changes to become an adult. As for someone in foster care? Those difficulties are amplified by a thousand. Sometimes Christie’s CASA youth just needs to go to dinner, to the park, or to the local mall. Sometimes it’s more about giving the time to talk about important issues than what they do together.
Christie always makes a point to talk to her youth about her personal goals, the education she’ll need to reach those goals, and what kind of future she wants for herself. They may only meet a couple times a month but having someone who cares about her future is the important thing.
An issue with children in foster care is that they often feel lost about their futures. It’s hard to learn lessons of adulthood without a stable presence to guide them. How to get a bank account, a driver’s license, and a college education are difficult to learn on your own. In Christie’s case, she helped her youth develop a transition plan. With Christie’s help the girl felt empowered to have some control over her life and her future.
This is just one example of the amazing work CASA volunteers do for their youth, but who can be a CASA? There isn’t a mold for a CASA, they come from all different backgrounds! Christie is currently a water/wastewater lab supervisor for the town of Ocean City. She first learned about CASA from being a foster parent, and when she could no longer serve in that role, she knew being a CASA volunteer would allow her to continue her passion of helping children who need it most.
Of course having a CASA benefits the child, but how does a volunteer benefit? Christie says that meeting people through the program, constantly learning new things through training, and being challenged are a few of the benefits. She continues to volunteer because she truly cares about giving children a voice, standing up for them, and making sure they receive services they need.
And as for someone thinking about becoming a CASA? Christie says take the first step and check it out. It’s a decision not to be taken lightly, there will be ups and downs, but the opportunity to be a child’s voice in court is what keeps her coming back.
“These children are very vulnerable and have been put in a situation through no fault of their own. It can be one the most rewarding volunteer opportunities if you are willing to commit to it,” Christie says.
CASA volunteers are so integral to helping children in foster care. People like Christie Menning do amazing work and make important differences in a child’s life every day! Volunteers like Christie are why CASA can do the work it does, and continue to help the children who need it most. Thank you, Christie!