I Am For The Child
Valuable 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 - Jody DelatteLIFT 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 Jody Delatte. Mrs. Delatte completed her volunteer training and was sworn in as a CASA on July 16, 2009.
Jody grew up in Sorrento, Louisiana and married Tony Delatte in 1984. Since then, she had two beautiful daughters and moved with her family to Gonzales. Jody was a kindergarten teacher for 17 years and is currently the Librarian at Central Primary School. Jody first learned about the CASA program when she met a CASA volunteer through the school system. She recognized the importance of these children having a CASA volunteer and therefore she too wanted to give back to abused and neglected children in her community.
Jody has been a CASA advocate for Child Advocacy Services for over two years now. She has served on three cases and shows no signs of growing tired in her efforts to make a difference in the lives of children. The case Jody is currently serving on started out with a 15 year old girl. Receiving the appointment was difficult in this case because one of the attorneys present in court that day told staff that we should save our CASA for the little babies that we could actually help. However, we requested the appointment and Jody accepted the assignment. Reading the child’s history, she knew it would be difficult, but she is determined to make this child feel that someone cared for her, and that care would come at no cost. Jody utilizes their time together to improve the child’s literacy, celebrate landmarks, and increase her sense of belonging. This child has opened up to her in ways no one expected. Currently the child is now 17. Jody is advocating for youth transition services to be put in place when her child ages out of the system so she will have the tools and permanence that she will need to thrive.
Jody’s advice to those thinking about becoming a CASA volunteer is, “Even though the experience can be frustrating at times, it’s very rewarding because you get to be a positive role model and a voice for children who often fall through the cracks of the system and have no voice.”
Felicianas CASA Volunteer - Robin MalveauxLIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.
Robin Malveaux is originally from New Orleans but moved to the Feliciana’s from California after Katrina to raise her niece. She is retired with 32 years of experience in Special Education and Administration.
Robin had learned about CASA in California, one of the children she taught had a CASA volunteer . When she retired and moved back to Louisiana, she wanted an opportunity to use her professional skills. She has a cousin in St. John Parish that is a CASA volunteer and she had suggested Robin look into it. Robin has been a CASA volunteer now for 4 years, has served on 8 cases, and is happy to be using her professional skills.
In most of her cases she feels she has been well received and believes that is the basis of her success as a CASA. She feels she has been able to make a difference for the children she has served. Robin says that overall, being a CASA volunteer has been a wonderful experience for her. The greatest success for Robin is being a voice for these children. Children can be brutally honest about their feelings, and don't mind sharing if you are willing to listen. When Robin is asked what the child's wishes are, she can honestly share what that child wants.
Robin said her CASA Supervisor Veronica London and the other CASA staff have been wonderful to work with. They are always available and supportive which has helped make her successful as a CASA. The greatest part is that the CASA supervisors treat the CASA volunteers as equals, not like they are on a different level.
When asked what would you say to someone thinking about becoming a CASA her response would be, “Can you be committed to make a difference for a child? It doesn't require a lot of time but it does require a commitment. You have to want to do this. The court, and most importantly the child, are depending on you to give them a voice.”
Livingston CASA Volunteer - Janice MathisLIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.
When Janice Mathis retired from sales and marketing, she knew she didn’t want to stay home so she started looking for volunteer opportunities. Janice volunteered at a Christian food bank and also did some volunteer work for LPB (Louisiana Public Broadcasting) while continuing to look for other opportunities. Janice came across CASA, did some research, then decided she could do this. She told her daughter that she was thinking about becoming a CASA volunteer. Her daughter said that she had just completed the training to become a CASA volunteer in Houston, Texas and was really excited about it.
Janice was sworn in August 2010 and was assigned her first case in which she is still committed to today. In almost three years, Janice has not missed a court date or any other meeting involved in the case. One Christmas, her CASA child called and asked her if she could come see her. The child was placed in a group home. The arrangements for her to spend Christmas with a foster family did not work out and all of the other girls in the home had left to spend Christmas elsewhere. Janice was able to spend Christmas Day with her talking, playing games, and having fun. She feels this has been a perfect match. Her CASA child has been in foster care since she was a baby and will age out this year. Janice told her that she would always be her friend and she could continue to call her after her case closed.
Janice feels that she has made a difference for this child. She has been the most consistent person in the child's life. There have been several instances in the case where if she had not been there as a CASA to make recommendations about certain things, she is not sure that it would have worked out for the child's best interest. She is working diligently to get her ready for aging out. She wants to make sure she knows all of her choices and is committed to helping guide her through the transition.
Janice said her CASA Supervisor, Courtney Galbreath, makes it easy to be a volunteer. “She is always there for me to ask questions and walk me through the tough times.”
When asked what would you say to someone who might be interested in becoming a CASA volunteer her response would be, “It is personally rewarding to know you are making a positive difference in someone's life. It’s a legacy we should all strive for, to know I was here and I made a difference.”
St. Charles CASA Volunteer - Barney HegwoodLIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.
MY VOYAGE AS A CASA ADVOCATE
Back in 2009 I read somewhere that in serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate a volunteer speaks on behalf of a neglected and abused child and assures that the best interest of that child is represented as they navigate through the court system. As a licensed and certified rehabilitation counselor in private practice for the past 25 years and as having testified as an expert hundreds of times in both federal and state courts I said to myself, “Self, for a 65 year old educated, experienced professional you can do this. It will be a piece of cake and you will be helping children in need plus giving back to your home parish of St. Charles as well as lending a hand to sister parishes”.
I was correct except for the “piece of cake” part. I should have known something was up when the very nice ladies in Luling (supervisor Charlita Patterson and her then assistant Jordana LeBlanc, now a supervisor in LaPlace) were so accommodating. I advised them that I owned a business, worked long hours and traveled. They convinced me that this would not be a problem and I only had to commit for one year. So in July 2009 I applied for the volunteer CASA position. My second meeting with Charlita came quickly and she instantly convinced me of the dire need for my services as she had two cases requiring immediate attention. With no time to wait for a training class to start up I was introduced to the “independent study program” and given a 3” binder to study, complete and turn in the lesson chapters. It was intense and after a few chapters I begin to feel that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this role. I got through it, took the final test and 4 weeks later was standing in front of Judge Sterling Snowdy in St. John the Baptist Parish being sworn in as a advocate for CASA River Parishes.In August 2009 I was assigned my first case, then a second one in September and a third in November. Things happen fast, but there was a great need for the neglected and abused children involved. I am now on my 4th case and proud to say that my first two children have been successfully adopted and their cases closed with my current two now in the adoption process. It has not been easy by any means as the court process is frustrating and very slow moving. It took some time to realize that the interaction with the children, their caregivers, their potential adoptive parents, the dealing with the biological parents and relatives, the rules and regulations of the Dept. of Child and Family Services (DCFS), the court reports, family team meetings, monthly tracking forms, home, daycare and school visits are all part of the process that I was not expecting. Helping to improve the lives of children by serving as their voice is the reason I remain committed to this extraordinary program. I have to give credit to the DCFS case workers and supervisors, the adoption case workers my CASA supervisor, the court appointed children’s attorneys and fellow volunteers. They all do a good job under often times trying circumstances and heated tempers of relatives, but because of their efforts an ordinary person like me can make a difference. I repeatedly witness the impact CASA can have on a child’s life and it is the reason I intend to remain committed to serving in this very special organization.
St. James CASA Volunteer - Jeanne SummerourLIFT 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 - Sherial LewisLIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.
Child Advocacy Services’ Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program would like to recognize St. John Parish CASA volunteer Sherial Lewis. Sherial completed her volunteer training and was sworn in as a CASA on July 12, 2011.
Sherial grew up in the Paulina/Lutcher/Gramercy area where she attended Lutcher High School. Sherial was born with sickle-cell anemia, a genetic blood disorder that affects the red blood cells. It decreases the cells flexibility and results in a risk of various complications. Sherial says she was told that she would not live past 26 years old. Sherial has proven the doctors wrong, as she is still alive and well and going strong. Sherial was a kindergarten teacher for the St. John and St. James Parish School Systems and taught for 27 years. She has resided in LaPlace for 30 years. Sherial has two daughters and two granddaughters.
Sherial first heard about the CASA program through friends. They told her she would be a great fit for the program and so she decided to look into it. Sherial joined the CASA program in 2011 and is currently serving on her fourth case.
Sherial’s second case involved two girls and a boy. They were removed from their birth mother due to neglect. The children stayed with their grandmother while the mother worked on her case plan. Sherial says her most memorable moment on this case was when she arrived at the grandmother’s home for a visit with her CASA kids. They opened up the door, and to her surprise, were in dress up clothes. She said that they knew she was coming to visit and so they wanted to dress up for her. Sherial couldn’t help but smile and laugh at how cute they looked. The children were reunified with their mother.
Sherial says, “I enjoy being a CASA volunteer because it gives me a chance to work with kids and be able to give back and help make someone’s quality of life a little bit better.” When asked what she would say to someone thinking about becoming a CASA, Sherial said, “Please do it. Consider being a voice for a child. It’s not as time consuming as people may think and CASA allows you to plant a seed to help make a brighter future for a child.”
Tangipahoa CASA Volunteer - Leo PrimmLIFT UP A CHILD'S VOICE. A CHILD'S LIFE.
Leo Primm believes that children are a precious gift and adults are responsible to make sure they are taken care of properly. As a child, he had experienced abuse and neglect himself and his desire is that children will not experience the things he did.
Leo had previously volunteered with a couple of other organizations that served children but wanted a more involved role in making a change for a child. He wanted to make a difference in their future. That's why he decided to become a CASA volunteer.
Leo had decided that his first case would determine if he would continue as a CASA volunteer. He wanted to know if the Judge would really listen to what the CASA volunteer had to say and if it really made a difference. Leo discovered that the Judge did in fact want to hear what CASA had to say. The information that he provided was very important and had a huge impact in the final determination in this case. His efforts were certainly not a waste of time. Leo’s involvement helped identify the adoptive placements for the children. He absolutely knew he was making a difference and was ready for his second case.
Along with being a dedicated CASA, he also has a full time job at Weyerhaeuser. After Leo told them about CASA and the difference it makes for children, they decided to become a community partner in support of the program.
The biggest challenge for Leo is making sure he has everything correct and everything that is needed to give the Judge so a well informed decision can be made.
When asked what would he say to someone interested in becoming a CASA volunteer, his response would be,
“It is very rewarding helping children in need. You have a huge influence in their lives. It’s not for everybody. You have to be willing to do what needs to be done. If not, you are not helping the child.”
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~