In this week’s Volunteer Spotlight, we are featuring Mandi Graham! Mandi is a volunteer with CASA of Allegany County and has been working with them for over a year. Having first heard about the organization at an information table at her local farmers market. Mandi wanted to become more involved with her community and she knew she enjoyed working with kids. After she did some research and learned how important CASAs are to children in need, she knew it would be a fantastic opportunity to make a difference in her community. In addition to volunteering with CASA, Mandi currently works at CBIZ, Inc. as a marketing consultant in their Retirement Plan Services division and has been working for them for 3 years.
Not only do CASAs work many different types of jobs, they also have many different backgrounds that contribute to their decision to volunteer. Mandi’s childhood helped shape her decision to volunteer. Her family was able to provide for her and her sister and they never had to go without. Unfortunately, many children in Allegany County aren’t as lucky. Being a CASA allows Mandi to make a child’s life a little easier; she helps them feel more at ease during their stay in foster care and less scared about what is next.
“Let them be a kid!” Mandy exclaimed during her interview with Maryland CASA. “And leave that tough adult stuff for someone else to handle,” she added, stressing the importance and need for CASA.
Mandi helps her CASA child by seeing him as much as possible. They typically grab lunch or dinner and simply talk about school and his home life. If his grades are good, and he’s been showing good behavior, then a special trip to the toy store is sometimes in order.
Mandi believes that she has helped improve her CASA child’s overall behavior. It took some time before he knew he could trust her, but once he did, he began looking forward to his visits with Mandi. Mandi encourages her CASA child to always try his best in school, and work hard toward a positive future.
Speaking with Mandi about her experiences of being a CASA revealed how the work has made an impact on her own life. Mandi feels that being a CASA has opened her eyes to the needs of local foster children; she thinks that being a volunteer has helped her learn how to view the world through her CASA child’s eyes. She is able to put things in perspective and help her CASA youth in the way he needs it. She also has a better appreciation for everyone involved in helping these children, from the social workers, to the lawyers, to the judges. The decisions they have to make aren’t easy, and Mandi feels she now has a greater understanding of how they also work to help children in need.
Mandi knows being a CASA is wonderful and rewarding, but she recognizes that it isn’t for everyone. Children in the CASA program need someone they can depend on: a consistent companion they can trust and confide in
“So, if you decide to volunteer, make sure you’re dedicated to seeing a case through from beginning to end. You will be glad you did! We can be such a positive light in their lives!”
Thank you Mandi for all you do for children in need! CASA couldn’t exist without amazing volunteers like you!