Name: Shawn Gusciora
Service Site: CASA of Washington County, MD
How long have you been a CASA volunteer? I completed training at the end of 2013 and have served as an Advocate since then.
Work Experience outside of CASA I lead a team of claim professionals at State Farm Insurance.
How did you hear about CASA, and what made you decide to volunteer? Several years ago, I saw an ad about CASA opportunities in the Herald-Mail newspaper. I was immediately drawn to the chance to impact the lives of children in need. Children should not have to suffer from abuse and neglect; children should be cherished as the precious gifts from God that they are. I am very fortunate to have been raised with lots of love and caring direction. I wanted to do what I could to help children who aren’t so fortunate.
Describe your current case: I am working for an elementary-school-aged boy who has been in foster care for over a year. He is an energetic, intelligent, spontaneous child.
What sorts of activities do you and your CASA child/youth like to do together? Our visits always include time to talk. He knows that I will ask questions about how things are going at school, at the foster home, and at visits with his biological parents. He knows that I will give him my full attention and truly listen to what he wants to say. After (and sometimes during) our talk time, we may shoot hoops, play a board game, throw a football or grab dinner at a spot of his choosing.
What is the most rewarding part of being a CASA volunteer? The most rewarding part for me is making a connection with a child, then seeing that child through the process and into a safe and supportive home. I enjoy working alongside DSS, educational professionals and foster parents to truly understand and serve the child. I also enjoy the hearing process; providing information to assist the judge in making the best decision possible for the child.
What is one thing you would say to someone else interested in volunteering? If you have the heart for this work, you will be given the training and tools that you need to be successful. You’ll have support along the way. You can do this.
What are CASA volunteers doing to help overcome the challenges faced by today’s youth? CASA volunteers are finding resources to help children prosper. CASA leaders provide ongoing training for volunteers to equip us to recognize and address the diverse needs of the children we serve. For older youth, this may involve life skills to prepare them to be confident, successful adults. One child at a time, CASA volunteers are making a difference.