Making a positive impact on anyone’s life is a worthy and admirable goal, but when it comes to those who cannot stand up for themselves, it is even more important.
In the life of a child, Court Appointed Special Advocates help make sure that local children who have endured great difficulties — and have often been removed from their homes — have someone looking out for them who can make a true, and life-changing, difference.
During a recent presentation to the George West Lions Club, Brenda Dees, director of CASA for Bee, Live Oak and McMullen Counties — and now also, San Patricio County, talked about the importance of people stepping up and being willing to look out for the best interests of children who have gone through some traumatic circumstances.
Dees has helped to organize CASA efforts in Bee, Live Oak and McMullen counties for several years, and because of an overwhelming need and a request, the organization is branching out to include children in San Patricio County.
While our area is blessed to have some great volunteers, CASA can always use more dedicated people to help endangered children get a new start in their lives.
Those who volunteer certainly don’t do it for the publicity and I’m sure they would prefer to simply work behind the scenes in order to make the best of things for the children they help.
But I will mention the name of one of the volunteers, John Cochran, pastor of First United Methodist Church of George West, who passionately believes in helping others, and is no doubt doing the Lord’s work in helping children in need.
Cochran, as a CASA volunteer, is helping to look out for the interest of seven different children and is making a difference in their lives.
“You get involved and your heart opens up,” he said, adding that CASA volunteers are truly dedicated to doing whatever is in the best interest of the child or children they represent.
In some cases, he and other CASA volunteers are among the few anchors of stability in a child’s life.
Children who are removed from homes are the innocent victims of chaotic situations, whether it is because they have been neglected or abused. Dees reported that drugs are usually the root cause of the family problems in which children are removed from homes.
It is not the CASA that makes that decision, but an officer with Child Protective Services. Because that job is stressful, there is a high turnover rate among CPA caseworkers.
Dees said in one instance, a child had eight different CPS workers during a one-year timeframe. In instances like that, it is the CASA who can be there from start to finish looking out for the child.
Dees noted that Live Oak County has the second highest rate in Texas of children being raised by their grandparents. While it is a blessing that these grandparents are taking on that responsibility, it is also a burden — and one which can be partially alleviated by the help of a CASA in children’s lives.
If you have the time and the desire to make a strong positive impact in children’s lives, CASA can benefit from people like you.
Training is provided and there is a support network to make sure you have the knowledge and backup to do the best job possible. Just being there and being willing to help makes a huge statement to those children who need someone to stand up for them.
If you are interested in more information, visit https://texascasa.org/local-casa/casa-of-bee-live-oak-mcmullen-counties/ or call 361-542-4407.
Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. A Texan since 1973, he has worked for Texas newspapers for 25 years.