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Child Advocacy Services
Child Advocacy Services - Powerful Voices for Children


  



I Am For The Child

I Am For The Child - Volunteer Spotlight

V
aluable is the work you do
Outstanding in how you always come through
Loyal, sincere, and full of good cheer
Untiring in your efforts throughout the year
Notable are the contributions you make
Trustworthy in every project you take
Eager to reach your every goal
Effective in the way you fulfill your role
Ready with a smile like a shining star
Special and wonderful -- that's what you are!!!

Ascension CASA Volunteer - Kerry Songy

Ascension CASA Volunteer - Kerry Songy - Volunteer Spotlight

LIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.

Child Advocacy Services’ Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program would like to recognize Ascension Parish CASA volunteer, Kerry Songy. Kerry completed her volunteer training and was sworn in as a CASA on October 26, 2010.

Kerry was born and raised in New Orleans with her younger brother Mark. Kerry and her family moved to Ascension Parish in 1965 after they were flooded by Hurricane Betsy.

Kerry graduated from East Ascension High School. She went on to further her education at LSU where she received a bachelor’s degree in Arts Education and Journalism in 1976. In 1980, she received a Master’s degree in School Counseling. Kerry worked in the school system for 30 years where she met her husband Donald Songy. They were wed in 1979 and have two children, Megan and Bryan. They also have two grandchildren from her daughter Megan and husband Adam. They have been enjoying being grandparents.

Kerry became a CASA volunteer after she retired in 2009. Kerry was assigned to two children, a boy and a girl. Kerry worked closely with the family as they were all involved and working hard toward reunification. When Kerry visited her CASA children, they would play games and do art projects together. Kerry sometimes visited her CASA girl at school and would have lunch with her. Kerry was able to work closely with the little girl’s psychiatrist and psychologist as she had behavioral disorders. The little boy was enrolled in a pre-school program and was doing well. Kerry was also able to help get the services and support for the family so that they could help manage the little girl’s disorders. With the support of everyone working together, Kerry’s CASA children were reunited with their mother, grandmother and great grandmother and are doing well.

Felicianas CASA Volunteer - John Rogers, Jr.

Felicianas CASA Volunteer - John Rogers, Jr. - Volunteer Spotlight

LIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.

John Rogers, Jr. has been a resident of St. Francisville for all of his life. He is the father of five children and has three grandchildren.

John has been a CASA volunteer for ten years. He said that he decided to become a volunteer to be the voice for children who are in situations where they had no choice in what happened to them. He says that being a CASA is very rewarding - to see the needs of a child being met, being able to provide that voice for them, and come up with a win-win situation for all parties involved. His biggest challenge is to find time in his busy schedule to make the monthly visits to his CASA child. He still manages to do so and feels he is making a difference.

When asked what he would say to someone interested in becoming a CASA, he responded , “It is quite rewarding being able to help a child that has been misplaced and knowing you are there to help.”

Livingston CASA Volunteer - Jeanette Mathes

Livingston CASA Volunteer - Jeanette Mathes - Volunteer Spotlight

LIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.

Jeanette has been retired for 10 years and wanted to do something to help children. She saw a sign about CASA and thought what better cause could there be. Jeanette has been a CASA volunteer in Livingston Parish for four years and has served on four cases. Her last case just closed with the child being reunified with the mother and Jeanette has already agreed to take another case.

Jeanette says she is enjoying being a CASA volunteer and the supervisors have all been so helpful. The most gratifying thing that brings her so much joy is when a child gets to go back to the parents. The most challenging part is seeing the parents not getting their life together. Most of them want their children back but they just are not willing to make the effort.

Little by little Jeanette feels she is making a difference.

When asked what she would say to someone who might be interested in becoming a CASA volunteer her response would be, I talk to my friends about it all the time. I tell them it only takes a little bit of time but has big rewards.”

St. Charles CASA Volunteers - Rosemary Schoen/Elma Smith

St. Charles CASA Volunteers - Rosemary Schoen/Elma Smith - Volunteer Spotlight

LIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.

Elma Smith and Rosemary Schoen have been CASA volunteers for Child Advocacy Services in St. Charles Parish for about 5 years. Rosemary first learned about the CASA program when she saw an article in the Times Picayune newspaper. Elma first learned about the CASA program while watching television and saw an ad for the New Orleans CASA program. After they both did their individual research they came to learn about Child Advocacy Services and found the CASA program in St. Charles Parish.

At first, Elma and Rosemary did not know that CASAs could work cases together as a team and neither had any intention of doing so. Yet, once this concept was introduced to them by their previous supervisor Charlita Patterson, they decided to become co-CASAs. Both ladies have been serving on cases together for four years.

Elma and Rosemary accepted their first case regarding a 2 year old boy named Andrew. When they accepted the case, Andrew had been back and fourth between foster families because he had been acting out sexual behavior. One day, his foster parents dropped him off at Pre-k and did not come back for Andrew. The teacher couldn’t imagine why he was left there. After trying to contact the foster parents it was told that they did not want Andrew anymore. The teacher decided to take Andrew home and find out how she could become his new foster mother.

In the meantime, the biological mother and father were not working their case plans. The mother had Andrew taken from her, initially, because of her involvement with drugs and theft. The father had been in jail at the time Andrew was taken into State’s custody and although they both made attempts to work their case plans, it wasn’t enough and their parental rights were taken away.

The teacher and her husband both decided they wanted to adopt Andrew and went through the adoption process. Andrew was very happy in this transition and was doing well. Although, Elma and Rosemary both observed that anytime Andrew had visitors, because of his traumatic experience, he was fearful that someone was coming to take him away.

The adoptive parents stay in touch with Elma and Rosemary and send them pictures of Andrew to keep them up to date with his progress and how well he his doing. Elma and Rosemary both agree that because of one woman's initiative, this little boy has a future.

When asked the question what would you say to someone inquiring about becoming a CASA volunteer, both Elma and Rosemary agree that, “if you have a heart for a child and want to see them with an improved life, then get involved and fight for that child. It’s a very rewarding program.”

St. James CASA Volunteer - Jeanne Summerour

St. James CASA Volunteer - Jeanne Summerour - Volunteer SpotlightLIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.

Child Advocacy Services’ Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program would like to recognize St. James Parish CASA volunteer, Jeanne Summerour. Jeanne completed her volunteer training and was sworn in as a CASA on December 13, 2012.

Jeanne was born in Washington D.C., but frequently moved around because her father was in the military. Jeanne has lived in various places, such as Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Georgia, and Germany. While in Georgia, Jeanne served as a mentor through Dawson County Mentoring Program. Jeanne also met her husband in Georgia and they have been together 33 years. In 2008, Jeanne and her husband moved to Louisiana so she could be closer to her grandbabies.

Jeanne really missed volunteering for the mentoring program, so she tried to find the same program in Louisiana but could not find it. Then in October, Jeanne attended the Art on the Bayou Festival where she met CASA Recruiter Krisy McAdams and CASA Supervisors Beth Bourgeois and Rachel Hester. After hearing about the CASA program, Jeanne became very interested and decided she wanted to become a CASA volunteer. Through the training and with the support of having a classmate to journey with her, Jeanne said she became more aware of the need to serve children in the local parishes and felt that this was the right fit for her.

Jeanne is currently serving on her first case and says it’s going well. She says the case man-ager is fabulous and her CASA children are very bright. She sees the potential and possibilities for her CASA children’s futures and is working towards permanent placement with their grand-mother. With determination and persistence, Jeanne Summerour is advocating for her CASA children to get the services they need, such as counseling and anger management counseling.

Jeanne says “I enjoy being a CASA volunteer because I have learned a tremendous amount about the social system and I truly feel that I am making a difference in my CASA children’s lives.” When asked what she would say to someone thinking about becoming a CASA, Jeanne said, “Although there are obstacles in the system, every child deserves a chance. If you are in a position to volunteer and can make the commitment, then do it.”

St. John CASA Volunteer - Brian Shinault

LIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.

Child Advocacy Services’ Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program would like to recognize St. John CASA volunteer, Brian Shinault. Brian completed his volunteer training and was sworn in as a CASA on May 6, 2008.

Brian is from New Orleans and currently resides in the Metairie area. Brian attended Tulane University where he received his bachelor’s degree in Paralegal studies in 2007 and went on to pursue his Masters degree in Liberal Arts in 2010.

Brian has been serving on his current case since 2010. His CASA child was placed in a foster home and has a good relationship with his foster mother. Brian is advocating for his CASA child to be placed there permanently, hopefully ending in adoption. His CASA child has physical and mental disabilities, and although he has his struggles with everyday life, he is doing great. Brian says when he visits his CASA child they have great conversations about sports, especially when talking about “The Saints”, since this is his CASA child’s favorite pro sports football team. Brian has a great relationship with his CASA child. Brian says that he talks to his CASA child about everyday life struggles including school work and reassures him that he is not alone. Brian is also going back to school for another Masters degree and shares his experiences with him. He makes him understand that he’s not singled out and that anytime he needs to talk, he is there to listen.

When Brian was asked what he would say to someone interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, his response was, “It’s a great privilege and honor to volunteer for such an organization. Children are the future. I get a wonderful feeling in knowing that I am able to be a part of this experience and see the child moving toward a better quality of life including a safe and permanent home, especially knowing these children have suffered with a history of abuse or neglect.”

Tangipahoa CASA Volunteer - Mollie Lynn

LIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.

Mollie Lynn moved to Hammond in 1976 when her husband was transferred here for work. They have two children, a son and a daughter, who are now adults.

Mollie had heard about the CASA program while she was working as the Pupil Appraisal Coordinator for the Livingston Parish School System. She had also worked with children in the past as a social worker with child protection and had a special feeling for children that are in foster care. When she retired, she decided to become a CASA volunteer. She has been a volunteer for almost five years.

The most challenging thing for Mollie was getting in sync with her roll as a CASA volunteer although there are some similarities with her career as a therapist, counselor, and case manager.

Mollie’s first case was a child that had been in care since she was 6 years old. She was about 13 when Mollie took the case and remained on it until the child aged out. Although the child was very needy and tested her by running away from placements, she would not be pushed away. She did not lecture the teen but would talk about choices and consequences. Mollie said she would like to think she made a difference for this child.

When asked what she would say to someone interested in becoming a CASA, she responded,

“It’s very rewarding and challenging, but you know you are doing something worthwhile. To be there for them as a friend and mentor is very rewarding. You have to be committed.”

Tangipahoa CASA Volunteer - Carolyn Guillory

Tangipahoa CASA Volunteer - Carolyn Guillory - Volunteer Spotlight

LIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.

Carolyn Guillory is married and has one daughter. She has been a CASA volunteer for one year. Carolyn said it was something she had always wanted to do but didn't feel she had the time to commit. While looking in the newspaper when she was between jobs, she saw an ad about becoming a CASA volunteer. She had volunteered with other organizations before like the food bank and other similar organizations. Once she became aware of the CASA program and how many children were in foster care that needed a voice, she decided that she wanted to do this and felt like she could make a difference. She thought, “Who wouldn't want to do this?”

As soon as Carolyn was sworn in, she accepted her first case with two children that had been severely neglected. The children had never seen or played a board game before. Carolyn brought one to play with them and they didn't want to stop. They are so appreciative of anything and everything. “They look through the window waiting to see me and get so excited.”

The most challenging thing with the case is trying not to judge the parents and believe they can be rehabilitated to become good parents. One of the parents in her case is making progress.

Carolyn said that everyone with the CASA program has been a pleasure to work with. Even during the recent transitions, she felt like she was supported and knew someone was there if she needed it .

When asked what she would say to someone interested in becoming a CASA, she responded, “Most people don't think about the dedication it takes when they become a volunteer. It’s a part of my life and I will stick it out. It is possible to do this even if you have a busy schedule. It is worth it.”

Those Special People

By a Former CASA Child

When you feel like the world has turned their back on you
There’s that one person who steps in your life just for you
They show you love and care
And they promise to always be there
They teach us that there are good people out there
And that it’s okay to give those special people your heart to share
When everyone else you thought loved you have turned away
Those special people come into your life with the right words to say
They give you their word that they are on your side
They listen to your heart and love what’s on the inside
When tears roll down your face at night
Those special people come and hold you tight
They open their hearts and you open yours
And together you both create an indestructible bond
Those special people fill those empty places in your heart
And they put your heart back together like a special piece of art
Hold on tight to those special people because they will bring you far
They will help you no matter how hard
Those special people leave a special fingerprint upon your fragile soul
That can never be wiped away
And I’m proud to say that
You are one of those special people.

~Voice of the Broken Hearted~
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