I am writing this letter to encourage your readers to consider being a CASA volunteer. A CASA volunteer is a Court Appointed Special Advocate / Guardian ad Litem who advocates for children who have been found to be neglected and abused by our NH Courts. Being a CASA, we have a very real opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of these abused and neglected children in NH.
After a career change, my wife and I moved to the North Country from Southern NH where I was a member of a service club for 20 years and felt a need to continue community service. I then started seeing television ads about becoming a CASA volunteer. I looked into it and I said, I can do that. What appealed to me was that the volunteer work that a CASA does has a direct impact on the children you advocate for, which to me was work more meaningful than going to meetings weekly and a few times per year helping with fund raisers to help others. Both are noble and worthy causes however at that point in my life I felt CASA was where I wanted to give my time.
In eight years, I have had the privilege to advocate and speak up for more than 20 children and help with numerous other cases. Advocating for the children includes meeting with the children at least monthly, meeting with their families, teachers, therapists, and others in order to gather the information to advocate for the children’s best interest both in court and at team meetings. This requires between 10 to 15 hours per month per case. Some months more and some months less. Sometimes the work can be stressful however the work is very rewarding.
One of my current cases has seven children from a blended family with two mothers and five fathers. A team was able to keep the children together and reunify them with their step- grandfather who has been the only consistent caring and loving person in their lives. Witnessing the love, the children have for each other and for their grandfather in their home is a reward that money cannot buy.
There is a tremendous need for more CASA volunteers in New Hampshire and I encourage you to look into this opportunity. For more information, or to apply, visit www.casanh.org.
Mark Linehan CASA/GAL