Sometimes you just need a sign…
A billboard is how this week’s volunteer spotlight, Deanna Speir of CASA of Cecil County, began her journey to volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). When she spotted a CASA billboard along Route 40 in Cecil County, she knew it was time to volunteer. Since viewing the organization’s billboard, Deanna completed her CASA training and has been an active volunteer for over a year!
Deanna has a long history of working with children and families. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services: Administration and Family Policy from the University of Delaware. She is the founder of the first MOMS (Mothers Offering Mothers Support) club in Delaware and later worked as the district coordinator. She, along with her husband, opened a child care center in Newark, DE that grew into an elementary school where Deanna worked as an administrator for 18 years. Her passion for working with children and families is clear, and it’s easy to see how it fits into her role as a CASA volunteer.
Typically, CASAs advocate for one child at a time until their case is closed but may take on another if it is appropriate. With Deanna’s long history of working with children and families, she is currently advocating for three siblings living in two foster homes. It’s quite the caseload but Deanna has proven she’s up for the task. She makes it a priority to frequently communicate with the foster mothers and helps to coordinate visits so the siblings can spend time together and maintain their close bond. She also works closely with the children’s social worker and attorney to assure their needs are being met. When it is necessary, Deanna meets with the children’s teachers, counselors, and therapist. She also attends visits with their mother and tries to help the siblings’ mother as best she can. Deanna considers herself an extra set of “eyes and ears for the court” and feels that she plays an integral role in helping to make sure her CASA children are taken care of.
The activities Deanna and her CASA children do together vary, but are always fun! They have gone to the movies, bowling, toured Herr’s potato chip factory, and even went to a trampoline park! Recently, Deanna set up an Easter egg hunt for the two older brothers, an opportunity for them time to spend together and make memories.
Deanna is an important part in helping her CASA children’s needs get met. She shares ideas and concerns about the children with their social worker. There are many people involved in their care and each person has their own perspective. Although it can be frustrating at times, Deanna enjoys the collaboration and understanding of? Different perspectives.
So, what makes volunteering with CASA worthwhile? Deanna has a sweet story about one of her CASA children that highlight exactly why being a CASA is fulfilling:
“The other day, I went to visit my 5-year-old in his foster home. When I came through the door, he, smiling ear-to-ear, and in an over-the-top, excited voice, identified me as the person who brings his older brother to visit him. Moments like that make me feel like a hero,” said Deanna.
Do you want to be a hero for a child in need and have 10-12 hours a month to spare? Deanna asks why wait to become a CASA? A child needs you! You’ll receive training and be supported by an amazing group.
“I guarantee it will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life,” she says.
Thank you, Deanna, for your hard work and dedication to Cecil County’s vulnerable children!