Tammy O’Neil is a passionate advocate for CASA’s mission as a volunteer advocate and, along with her husband Mike, has been a generous supporter and friend.
Tammy is fairly new to CASA, having completed training in spring of 2018. She heard about CASA through an attorney friend working with guardians ad litem, and discovered that even a lay person could volunteer as a GAL through volunteering with the CASA program. After working in the medical field for 20 years, she moved to the Seacoast and was later married. She eventually cut back to part time and continues to consult for her husbands company. Although the career change was interesting, she realized she accomplished some key initiatives as a consultant, and she “desperately needed something to feed her soul again.”
“I missed being involved in the bigger picture and making a positive difference in another human being’s life,” Tammy says. Through CASA, she found she could make a significant impact in a child’s life, without having to make a big time commitment.”
During her training, Tammy was introduced to the scope of the substance misuse crisis, not realizing, she admits, “the magnitude of the drug epidemic.” After training, Tammy took on a case in the fall of 2018.
“Children in particular are in greatest need of advocates when their parents are unable to see the trees through the forest – when they are struggling with their own difficult time,” Tammy says.
In her current case, she knows it is not due to a lack of love that there is a CASA involved, but that life can get out of control for good people, and life’s circumstances can become a tremendous burden.
“With the right support and resources, these circumstances can change,” Tammy says. “People can get wrapped up in their problems and they forget to look at real life issues. I am not judgmental, and I can say objectively that good people can and do make mistakes.”
Tammy understands first-hand how one person can make a tremendous impact in someone’s life, and has continued to pay it forward beginning with her career in healthcare many years ago.
“It was when I had my daughter and was feeling completely helpless on bedrest for four months that I realized the impact one kind person could have on my day — my life.”
In addition to her volunteer advocacy for children, she and Mike have been ardent financial supporters of CASA, attending CASA Cares for several years and participating in both the live auction and appeal. Tammy also served on the CASA Cares committee, lending her advice to auction efforts. Tammy knows how important it is for children to have a voice.
“I believe that society, particularly those with the ability to articulate and with the fortitude to advocate for the rights of those at a disadvantage, are obligated to do so,” Tammy says. Not everyone has grown up with the same opportunities available to them and we all have intrinsic differences and capacities to handle strife. I know that even the best people sometimes make poor decisions regarding their children. For some people, just getting out of their own way to help themselves is next to impossible.”