'Energizer Bunny' keeps CASA's mission going and going for 25 years

 Bonnie Schoppman, pictured center, has served Northeastern Indiana CASA as a volunteer for 25 years. She is pictured with Executive Director Kristi Bachman (left) and Steuben County Circuit Court Judge Allen Wheat.

Bonnie Schoppman, pictured center, has served Northeastern Indiana CASA as a volunteer for 25 years. She is pictured with Executive Director Kristi Bachman (left) and Steuben County Circuit Court Judge Allen Wheat.

ALBION — If volunteers are the lifeblood of Northeastern Indiana CASA, then Bonnie Schoppman is the heart moving it ahead by example. With 25 years under her belt as a CASA, Schoppman has served well over 100 children.

Northeastern Indiana CASA provides a voice for powerless children involved in judicial proceedings. Volunteers advocate for the child’s best interests and work to improve the child’s circumstances and quality of life. Although Schoppman serves Steuben County, she has also served in some of the other four counties Northeastern Indiana CASA covers - Noble, LaGrange, DeKalb and Whitley counties.

Schoppman was recently recognized for her service at CASA’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet. During her remarks, Executive Director Kristi Bachman described Schoppman as “special” and “dedicated.”

“She has so much energy for what she does,” said Bachman. “She never stops. She’s like the Energizer Bunny. I am inspired by Bonnie and her dedication for the children she serves. She is headstrong and determined to do what’s best for them. Our CASAs are sometimes the only constant faces our children see, so to have someone like Bonnie be here for 25 years means a lot to all the kids she’s served.”

And Schoppman isn’t read to slow down just yet.

“I’m not looking to give this up anytime soon,” said Schoppman. “I love what I do and I want to do it for the kids that need us. I know that if I just keep going and keep doing, kids have a chance. I don’t want to let them down.”

In her 25 years Schoppman says some things have changed, such as policies and procedures. However, the need still remains and is growing.

“I know we get comfortable in our small-town lives, but there are kids right here that are going through some tough stuff. We need to be there for them,” Schoppman said. “Being a CASA can be hard at times, but it is very rewarding. Even when it’s hard I still want to be here and do this. I really believe in the chance these kids can have when someone comes along side of them and is there for them.”

Schoppman was first introduced to CASA while working at Lincoln Life. A co-worker was involved in the Allen County program and urged Schoppman to explore the volunteer opportunity.

“When I got started, I don’t think I really understood what was all involved. I just knew I had the spirit to volunteer and I couldn’t think of a better way than to invest in children. Who can say no to children?”

Bachman said this long-term volunteer sets a great example for other volunteers.

“Bonnie keeps the communication going,” said Bachman. “She calls and talks to us in the office about her cases so we know what’s going on and she wants our feedback. She works hard at completing reports and making the best recommendation to the judges when she needs to. She goes above and beyond and puts her all into each case she works. She is one in a million.”

Northeastern Indiana CASA served 498 children in 2017 and to date, 530 in 2018. There is a growing trend for CASAs needed in the area. Schoppman says she would like to encourage more community members to get involved and volunteer, and although she is passionate about CASA and its mission, she understands that the volunteer role isn’t for everyone.

“There’s that old saying that not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something. If you think being a CASA is something you want to do, great! We’d love to have you. But if it’s not, that’s fine too. Just become involved in your community. It’s up to us to make a difference. I just choose to do it one child at a time.”

The next training session for volunteers is being planned for January 2019. To learn how you can get involved, visit www.neincasa.net.