After a career in Child Neurology, Leo Sullivan left Boston and settled in to Intervale for his retirement. Encouraged by a friend, Leo decided to become a CASA volunteer advocate to fill his time and continue his passion of helping children.
CASA volunteer advocates serve as the eyes and ears in the court system for abuse and neglect cases that come in to New Hampshire family courts. They are often the one constant in the turbulent lives of children who have been victim to abuse or neglect.
For the past 7 years, Leo has been advocating for children in the North Country. Leo has represented 16 children, and currently mentors four new CASA advocates through the Peer Coordinator (PC) program.
Throughout Leo’s career, he worked with many patients who had incurable diagnoses. He was able to transfer his passion for particularly difficult cases into the North Country by electing to advocate for teenaged youth who have suffered traumatic events that have created emotional and mental challenges.
Leo takes pride in making a difference, particularly in the lives of many teen boys. He enjoys learning about the cultural differences between his teen years in the 1950s and what it is like today.
“I have learned how teenagers think in this generation, what their norms and behaviors are, and it’s different,” he said.
Program Manager Jerry Larson speaks highly of Leo’s work in the court room and throughout his CASA cases. He is known to advocate not only what is best for the child, but also considers what is best for the family unit. Leo has seen many reunifications in his cases, even if the court did not think it was originally possible.
Occasionally, Leo has the opportunity to work with teen girls as well. He talks with pride about one of his more recent cases, involving a teen who just a year ago was suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts caused by a history of domestic violence and neglect. Now, she is looking forward to her freshman year of college and the opportunity to thrive into early adulthood.
Leo’s role as a PC is something he decided to take on in addition to the cases he was representing. “The PC program is a very big plus, I walk new volunteers through the first few court hearings until they feel comfortable doing it on their own,” Leo notes.
Leo is also prominent in the North Country Men’s Group that meets once a month to discuss their cases and concerns with fellow CASA advocates.
“Most men are retired from successful backgrounds,” Leo said, “it’s an interesting group of people that I would have never met.”
Between trainings, court hearings and workshops, Leo enjoys the social aspect that he gets from his CASA role. “There is always something you can take advantage of.” Says Leo. “For people who are retired, or have time on their hands, CASA is a really good option.”
As an advocate, Leo meets with his CASA children once a month, and attends all court hearings associated with the cases.
“The time commitment is not tremendous, it can be as much as you want it to be,” Leo said.
One of Leo’s responsibilities is to write court reports with all the information he gathers during the length of the case. These reports help the judge view the child’s perspective of what is going on in their case. While they can be daunting in the beginning, Leo notes to all future CASA’s that they do get easier with time.
Leo encourages anyone who may be interested to get in contact with another volunteer, or a staff member of the organization.
“Meet someone who is doing it, attend a meeting, have some exposure, and join the group!”