With 5 children of her own, this week’s volunteer spotlight, Erin Grauer of CASA of Cecil County, knows a thing or two about working with children. Erin has been working with CASA of Cecil County for 9 months and doing a fabulous job!
Erin’s journey to CASA began through a friend; when she heard about the organization, she thought it would be an excellent volunteer opportunity for a few reasons… First, because her free time has increased and helping children in need is a fantastic way to spend time. Second, Erin sees children in the foster care system experience trouble having their voices heard and wants to help by making sure they are seen as individuals with specific needs. Erin possesses a confident voice and wants to use it for those whose voices aren’t confident. Finally, she wanted to help children who have experienced trauma hold on to some of their childhood.
She is currently advocating for a brother and sister. Originally she was assigned to just the 13-year-old girl but when the girl’s 7-year-old brother needed a CASA as well, Erin began advocating for him.
Having 5 children of her own has helped prepare Erin to be an amazing CASA volunteer. Each of her children has a distinct personality and individualized needs. Learning to see the world through their eyes and how to meet their needs taught Erin skills to work with different CASA children. She is close with a young girl who experienced abuse as a child and watching the girl’s struggles, emotions, and difficulty getting her voice heard gave Erin the passion for helping others.
Erin sees her CASA children every two to three weeks but will visit sooner. Her 13-year-old CASA child loves art, so Erin tries to do art activities with her. They have painted pottery and attended a paint night where they painted their own canvas pictures. Other than art related activities, they enjoy walking the trails throughout the county. Recently, they walked a trail by a river and saw bald eagles!
One of her other CASA child’s favorite things to do is enjoy a nice breakfast and it has become something they both look forward to doing together. He also enjoys football, so Erin spends time with him learning pointers from him on how to play the game. He is also an excellent UNO player who beats Erin on a regular basis, which he greatly enjoys.
One of Erin’s important roles is advocating for proper therapy for one of her CASA children. In her time as a CASA, she has learned that therapy is not a “one size fits all” scenario, and should be tailored to meet the individual needs of the child. Erin’s CASA child’s needs are greater than what they are receiving, so Erin is working hard to make sure her CASA child receives everything they need.
Although being a CASA can be tough work, Erin loves seeing the smiles when she picks up her CASA children. She loves giving them a chance to put aside their situation for a moment and just be a kid and helping them feel special.
So if you’re interested in becoming a CASA, Erin has a message for you:
“These kids are our future,” she says, “We want to make sure they don’t go through life as a broken individual. So if you can help with that, I don’t see why you wouldn’t.”
Thank you, Erin, for all the wonderful work you do as a CASA!