June 6, 2014

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

CASA volunteers are angels among us

David SilerI constantly marvel at the commitment that people make in freely giving their time and talent to various causes. Volunteerism is alive and well at Catholic Charities in many varied forms, but our CASA volunteers are truly special.

Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) are really angels that come alongside children who have become part of the legal system following a substantiated case of abuse or neglect.

It is a very sad and tragic reality in our country that every day 1,900 children will be victims of abuse or neglect, and four of them will die. Thank goodness that our country does not tolerate this kind of treatment toward our children and the legal system can—when necessary and appropriate—intervene and remove a child from his or her parents.

The system is by no means perfect, but we do at least recognize that some children need to be protected from those entrusted with their care.

When a child is removed from their home, very difficult decisions have to be made in the best interest of the young person for their immediate protection and their long-term well-being.

Our county judges entrusted with making these tough decisions much prefer to rely on the expertise and recommendations of CASA volunteers, who are assigned to these children to get to know them, their family, their circumstances and the resources that may be available for the child’s living situation.

CASA volunteers have to expose themselves to the most awful, heart-wrenching and despicable of human behavior. They choose to intervene in situations that most of us would either prefer to run from or ignore. These volunteers remind me of people who run into a burning building.

You may have read in the May 9 issue of The Criterion about one of our CASA volunteers in Floyd County, LeeAnn Wiseheart (now isn’t that a great name for a CASA volunteer?) She recently spoke at the St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities gala. Her attitude sums up how a CASA volunteer sees the world.

When asked why she does this work, she replied, “If I don’t, who will?”

I wonder what the world would look like if more of us asked ourselves this question, and had the same compassionate response.

If you are willing to ask this most difficult question and answer, “Here I am Lord, send me,” I’d encourage you to explore becoming a CASA volunteer. In nearly every county of our state, there are far more children who need a CASA representative than there are volunteers. The need is tremendous! Some very hurting children could really use you in their lives.

Our own St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities in southern Indiana is the CASA provider for Floyd and Washington counties, but every county has a provider and needs volunteers.

To learn more about our program in southern Indiana, visit www.stecharities.org/programs or the state website at www.childadvocatesnetwork.org.

(David Siler is the executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Charities. E-mail him at dsiler@archindy.org.)

Local site Links: