Ten years wasn’t enough for Northeastern Indiana CASA volunteer Linda Stanton. After a decade spent working with the nonprofit, Linda recently returned to offer more of her heart and time to children who need adult advocates while navigating the court system.
“I have always had a heart for CASA and the positive impact it has on our communities,” said Linda.” I was a CASA for 10 years before I decided to step away. But even then, CASA remained in my heart and I continued my support in other ways. I found myself once again speaking up for CASA and the experience laid heavily on my heart. So here I am, putting on my ‘CASA shoes’ once again.”
While working as a secretary at an area middle school, Linda began to realize that there were children who needed a positive adult in their lives. “I saw the challenges many children had every day,” she said. “There were some who could use a voice to speak up for them. I could see it on their faces.”
At the time, Linda had not heard of CASA and wasn’t entirely sure what the organization did. Once she was educated on the many ways the nonprofit impact the lives of children, it still took Linda two years to decide to begin volunteering.
“I was working and I didn’t think I had the time,” Linda said. “But it just kept coming up. I had an interest and I wanted to see what it was all about. To me, CASA is not only being the voice of the child, but it is being a community member. It is building community relationships, serving our communities, and being a positive influence on a child’s life. It’s having a desired positive impact on family life.”
With more than a decade of perspective to match her passion for the work Northeastern Indiana CASA does, Linda returns as a volunteer. She has seen some “exciting” changes and growth in the communities served. With the integration of more technology and improved, “sophisticated” training, volunteers are well equipped to handle their responsibilities.
“The whole organization is working better and CASA is a little more accepted as a resource within the community and the court system,” said Linda. “All sides of the equation see its importance and that keeps the conversation going and minds open to what CASA can provide.”
CASA offers a voice for powerless children involved in judicial proceedings, but also advocates for the child’s best interests while striving to improve their circumstances and quality of life. Linda said she also sees CASA as a chance to “heal families.”
“People don’t realize the issues kids face,” Linda said. “Some of these kids have parents who are in jail or who are fighting drug use. It weighs heavily on their little hearts, but knowing someone is there to care for them and watch out for them means a lot. In the end, we hope that the family can be reunited in a healthier, happier way.”
Volunteers are always needed as the number of children served by a CASA volunteer grows. More than 400 children have been served so far this year, and more children are waiting for a CASA.
“If you have time to go shopping, you can find time to sit with a child,” said Linda. “Join with a friend. Join with your spouse. The important thing is, just join. You simply have to have the heart and interest. If you want to share in the mission, you should ask for more information and learn how you can become involved. You don’t realize how important you really are to the well-being of a child. You can make a difference, and it’s rewarding to know what you do matters.”
To learn more about Northeastern Indiana CASA, visit www.neincasa.net