Volunteer Spotlight: The Lombardi Couple

john lombardiName:  John Lombardi

Service Site:  CASA of Allegany County

How long have you been a CASA volunteer? Served?  Just over a year, now.

Work Experience outside of CASA:  I’m a professor of mass communication at Frostburg State University.

How did you hear about CASA, and what made you decide to volunteer?  I heard about our local organization through Facebook.  As for what made me to decide to volunteer, I suppose it’s simply rooted in the idea that we’re all a community and by helping one person, you’re helping all people.  There are many worthwhile organizations that need assistance and CASA is certainly one of them.  Unfortunately, there’s a large need for such assistance in Allegany County.  There are a lot of good people in the county, but sometimes they make bad choices and sometimes those choices can leave children in precarious situations.  I hope that I can help assure that such children receive as much stability as possible when they’re in such situations.

Describe your current case:  I just started a new case and don’t have a lot of information yet.  So, I’ll tell you a bit about my last case.  My last case was with a kindergarten-aged girl whose mother had been struggling with addiction.  While the case has been resolved (in that the child I was working with is no longer designated at a CINA) she still has a lot of work to do to overcome the situation she’s in.

What sorts of activities do you and your CASA child/youth like to do together?  I never took my child away from the home, but, while it took a while for her to feel comfortable around me, we did color together and play school.

What is the most rewarding part of being a CASA volunteer?  In the end, the most rewarding part of being a CASA volunteer is just knowing that I’m part of an organization that is truly doing good things in our community.  Whether I feel like I’m really making a significant difference in my child’s life or not, I know that the organization is making a big difference and I’m part of it.

What is one thing you would say to someone else interested in volunteering?  Always remember why you wanted to get involved in the first place.  It may not always feel like you’re making a difference, but so long as remember why you’re doing it, you’ll make a difference.

What are CASA volunteers doing to help overcome the challenges faced by today’s youth?  I think the biggest thing we are doing and the biggest thing we can do is to simply keep up with all the issues that can impact a child today.  As an example, technology (cell phones, social media, etc.) have made bullying much easier and much more anonymous.  It’s important for us to keep up with such changes so that, at least, we’re aware of the types of things that can happen.

 

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Name: Melanie Lombardi

Service Site: Allegany County

How long have you been a CASA volunteer? Served? I have been a volunteer over one year and have completed one case and currently assigned to another case.

Work Experience outside of CASA: I am a cable channel manager at Frostburg State University for FSU-TV3.  I also instruct in the Department of Communication for a Multi-Camera Television Production class, I am Co-Executive Producer for a series called “The Frostburg Experience.” Outside of FSU I am also a Zumba instructor teaching for Garrett Community College.

How did you hear about CASA, and what made you decide to volunteer? I heard about CASA through activities they were hosting.  They held a 5K race that my husband and I participated in and I heard about the great work that the volunteers were doing for children in our area.  I wanted to be able to assist a younger person and help shape a positive future and I fell I definitely accomplished this with my first case.

Describe your current case: I am very new to my case and I am in the stages of meeting everyone involved, so I am unsure how I can explain what I am working on currently.

What sorts of activities do you and your CASA child/youth like to do together? My first case, we held dance parties at her foster home, we were able to go to local playgrounds and play on the various jungle gyms etc…, we colored a lot, we played school, we had great talks and she always put a smile on my face.  Her foster family was so welcoming, I was able to attend her birthday party and also watched her participate in a Summer Bible camp production.  Even with being off her case, I keep in touch and I am looking forward to her upcoming swim meets and other activities she is participating in.

What is the most rewarding part of being a CASA volunteer? To see the emotional, physical and spiritual growth in the child.  My former case has become quite the young lady and is excelling in school and her extra curricular activities.

What is one thing you would say to someone else interested in volunteering? You can make a difference in a child’s life by being there to listen, to play and help bring some normalcy to their lives.

What are CASA volunteers doing to help overcome the challenges faced by today’s youth? They are being positive role models for the children who have had many struggles up to this point.