“Once you walk into my classroom, you are mine forever.”
This is the philosophy that this week’s volunteer spotlight, Roni Ringler of CASA of Allegany County, lived by throughout her 30 year teaching career. When students entered her classroom, they gained an educator who was passionate about her work and cared about her students. They gained a teacher they could confide in and over the years, even students who weren’t in her class would go to her classroom to talk.
It’s the same philosophy Roni brings to her work as a CASA. She has been working with CASA of Allegany County for 3 years and has brought many of the skills she acquired as a teacher to her work with the organization. Roni taught teenagers throughout her career and says that they know when someone cares about them and their wellbeing.
“It’s a balance between treating them like adults and also giving them reassurance when they need it,” she says.
Being able to balance multiple needs of children is a skill that benefits Roni tremendously in her work as a CASA. For the past 4 months Roni has been working with a 10 year old girl who is in her second foster home. Roni is the third CASA to work with her and the girl is facing some significant challenges. Roni says that sometimes she is sweet and polite but sometimes she cannot control her behavior. With Roni’s help and advocacy, however, her CASA child is now on the right track.
Currently, Roni’s CASA child is living with a foster family that has three biological and three foster children, including Roni’s CASA child. Although the placement is relatively recent, Roni believes it will be a positive experience for her CASA child because it provides the structured environment she needs to thrive, inclusive of house rules and weekly chores!
The foster family of Roni’s CASA child emphasizes family time. Because of this, Roni has decreased the amount of visits with her CASA child because she feels it is important for the girl to feel like an equal member of the family. However, Roni still makes it a priority to attend the girl’s supervised visits with her biological mother, and checks in on a regular basis to make sure everything is well.
It’s clear that Roni’s CASA child benefits from having a team that truly cares about her wellbeing, but, CASA volunteers also experience many benefits from working with their CASA children! Roni loves working with her CASA children and one of the best things for her is when she witnesses a smile instead of a frown, a hug back instead of the child pulling away, and hearing laughter instead of crying. When it happens, Roni feels a warm, fuzzy feeling and satisfaction that she helped a child in need forget the chaos going on in their lives — even if it’s just for a moment. It’s what keeps Roni coming back to her work as a CASA.
So, if you’re thinking about becoming a CASA but you haven’t applied yet, what does Roni say?
“Go for it! You won’t regret it!”
Thank you Roni for all your amazing work helping children in need!