Name: Steve Cunningham
Service Site: CASA Harford County
How long have you been a CASA volunteer? Since March, 2015
Work Experience outside of CASA: 30 year teacher at The Sheppard Pratt Pratt Hospital Forbush School; 7 year School Principal in Harford County and currently in “semi” retirement working as an Academic Coach at CCBC Essex and Program Manager for SAGE an educational/vocational non profit.
How did you hear about CASA, and what made you decide to volunteer? I had heard about CASA over the years in the newspaper and through word of mouth and saw one of their recruitment booths at the Towsontown Festival a couple of years ago and they put me in touch with the Harford County office.
I have always worked with “at-risk” students throughout my career and was missing the personal interaction, in my “semi” retirement, and this turned out to be a great way to stay involved in helping kids to write the next chapter of their lives.
Describe your current I am working with two delightful brothers ages 13 & 15 who are in foster care. They have had a tough go of it with domestic violence in their past but are responding well in school and life and have a solid future in front of them.
What sorts of activities do you and your CASA child/youth like to do together? We enjoy going to sporting events and just being together. We went to a Ravens and Aberdeen Iron Birds game and I took them to their first Dairy Queen! We also participated in an Eating Healthy Cooking Class sponsored by CASA of Harford County.
What is the most rewarding part of being a CASA volunteer? The most rewarding thing about being a CASA is the face to face contact with a youth in need. There is only so much impact that you can have by making a donation of money to a cause. But, to have a personal involvement in another person’s life that could use your help and you get to see the changes is priceless.
What is one thing you would say to someone else interested in volunteering? Just Do It! It doesn’t take up a lot of your time, its great to feel connected to something bigger than yourself, it’s interesting to see how our juvenile court system works, and most importantly…it’s FUN!
What are CASA volunteers doing to help overcome the challenges faced by today’s youth? I think CASA’s provide an important community perspective to a judge and care system with regards to what is in the best interest of a foster child. Sure, there are lawyers, DSS workers and other professionals involved in a child’s case but to have a community member as part of the “team”, first of all, lets people know that the community cares and secondly, that folks are willing to step up and get involved in helping out the most vulnerable among us have a fighting chance at living a productive life.