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  • Monroe County CASA News

    VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

    Jeff Gruenewald – October 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for approximately 1 year.

    2. What brought you to apply to become a CASA?

    I learned about the increasing need for CASAs due in large part to Indiana’s opioid crisis, and I ran out of good excuses not to apply. I could no longer convince myself that I was too busy to help abused and neglected children in my own community.

    3. Besides being a CASA advocate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

    I am a criminal justice professor at IUPUI and my wife is a doctoral student at IU-Bloomington so one or both of us is usually trying to frantically meet a deadline, and spare time is spent catching up on sleep or with our extended family. But when we do get away, we like to travel. This year, we were able to visit France, Italy and Mexico.

    4. What do you love the most about being a CASA?

    I love to see children and their parents become better versions of themselves and families grow together, entering into new, healthier stages of their lives. I am happy if I can play even a small role in helping to facilitate this process.

    5. And now for a little fun, what’s a hidden talent or unusual fact that most people don’t know about you?

    I played bass in a killer rock band through high school and some college. However, I would hesitate to describe myself as musically talented. I had a lot of fun, at least until my band mates realized they needed a bassist with actual talent. Despite this, we are all still great friends today.

    Shanda Sung – September 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I finished training June 1, 2017, and took my first case two weeks later.

    2. What brought you to apply to become a CASA?

    I became interested in CASA after seeing the board out front of the office with the number of children waiting for advocates. When I became a stay at home mom, I had more time for volunteering and I knew becoming a CASA was what I wanted to do.

    3. Besides being a CASA advocate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

    I enjoy hiking and traveling with my husband and two young sons. I also sew, craft and cook.

    4. What do you love the most about being a CASA?

    I love meeting and playing with the kids, and collaborating with parents and service providers to make sure their needs are being met.

    5. And now for a little fun, what’s a hidden talent or unusual fact that most people don’t know about you?

    It is not exactly something that most people don’t know, but I am a stand up comedian. I have been performing around the Midwest for 3 years!

    Robert Althauser – August 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Trained in 2005, first case in 2006.

    2. What brought you to apply to become a CASA?

    In the late 90’s I received a cold call from a CASA board member seeking financial support. I was amazed that a board member would do this. I made a mental note to join CASA after retiring from my day job a few years hence, because the defense of children from abuse or neglect was such a no-brainer of a cause to personally support.

    3. Besides being a CASA advocate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

    I’ve been active at the local, state and national level of Red Cross since 2002. And I’m a (real) news addict.

    4. What do you love the most about being a CASA?

    The challenge of tracking the case history, the details as they develop, useful for key moments in side-bar negotiations or court hearings when your knowledge of the people and the case can prompt a clarifying statement or question, leading to decisions that serve the best interest of the child(ren).

    5. And now for a little fun, what’s a hidden talent or unusual fact that most people don’t know about you?

    As a youthful member of the International Frisbee Association, I contributed a short paragraph about a Frisbee feat (throwing up into a stiff ocean breeze and measuring the distance the wind carried the Frisbee behind my initial position) which was published in Sports Illustrated, and which upon later reflection and testing, was overstated – It hadn’t carried 100 years downwind! And I’m the only former faculty support of the IU Ultimate Frisbee team to have cost IU a victory against Purdue by dropping the winning pass to me in their end zone…

    Lee Heflin – July 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Two years

    2. What brought you to apply to become a CASA?

    Upon retirement I took classes in sociology for two years at Indiana University and became a Big Brother. I so enjoyed helping a sixth grader learn to read. Weekly, we spent two nights at library reading and then Saturday was a “fun” day. In 2015 our dear friend Tarry Curry convinced me to become a CASA. Being a CASA is personally rewarding, and I have Tarry to thank!

    3. Besides being a CASA advocate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

    Almost daily I tell myself how lucky I am. I survived polio as a child, and a broken neck in 1988 and am still able to walk, so I don’t take walking for granted. I hike ten to fifteen miles, with friends, every weekend regardless of weather. When not hiking I like to be working on projects outdoors, reading and traveling.

    4. What do you love the most about being a CASA?

    I enjoy working with team oriented child caring professionals. Sometimes I feel so small, relative to the large number of cases and children in need. I am thankful the CASA supervisors are willing to work with many CASAs, on so many cases.

    5. And now for a little fun, what’s a hidden talent or unusual fact that most people don’t know about you?

    I hiked the Grand Canyon, round trip, on July 2, 198 and have a permit to hike up Mt. Whitney in California in August, 2017.

    Amee Yoder – June 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Since 2013, so almost 4 years — I can’t believe it has been that long!

    2. What brought you to apply to become a CASA?

    Well, there is a combination of reasons why I became a CASA. When I became a grandmother in 2011, I was back in the role of taking care of a little one to help out my daughter and son-in-law. I noticed a number of children in their neighborhood that seemed not to have the supervision, guidance and nurturing that my granddaughter had, and that increasingly tore at my heart. Not long after I was making these observations, there was a death of a child locally, and I believe the parents loved this baby but had their judgement affected by substance abuse. I decided that such little ones and their families need help — I do believe that it takes a village to raise a child.” So I called a friend, Cheryl Frank, who is a long time CASA, and she helped me decide that it might be a good fit for me. THANK YOU, CHERYL! I’m so glad I made the decision to become a CASA.

    3. Besides being a CASA advocate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

    During cold months – knitting and sewing. During warm months – gardening. And year-round, exercise, bridge, listening to music, especially jazz, and spending time with grandchildren and children! I LOVE family vacations with them! Oh, I listen to the news (NPR) ALL the time (maybe three radios at once so I can walk room to room and not miss anything!)

    4. What do you love the most about being a CASA?

    As much as I love helping kids, I value the interaction with the adults – the extended families – that have come to the rescue and support of the kids. I am amazed how unselfish and loving these family members are who have taken in children. These adults inspire me, and I feel they make me a better person. Also, our CASA staff are tremendous people. They are dedicated, unselfish and supportive. In my next life, I want to be a CASA staff member! I also love learning – the in-services are of great value. I have learned things I wish I had known before I retired (when I was still teaching).

    5. And now for a little fun, what’s a hidden talent or unusual fact that most people don’t know about you?

    I like sprint car racing, especially at Bloomington Speedway, because dirt tracks are the best!

    Les Wadzinski – May 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I’m in my 6th year, on my fourth case, and have had 13 CASA kids.

    2. What brought you to apply to become a CASA?

    When I first learned about CASA, my first thought was… “who on earth would want to get involved in that mess?” But, a coworker applied to the CASA program and asked me to fill out a recommendation for her. That got my attention, and after retirement I started looking for something that was truly needed and long lasting. I always believed the old saying of improving the world one person at a time and this looked like a good fit. Also, you don’t get to pick your parents but I was lucky and had good ones, and was shocked to learn that so many kids didn’t get that lucky. These kids generally live a difficult life even though they have done nothing wrong. As such, they deserve help, and hopefully our work as CASAs will help break the cycle of abuse and neglect.

    3. Besides being a CASA advocate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

    Fishing, boating, scuba diving, traveling, hanging out with friends and family.

    4. What do you love the most about being a CASA?

    I feel like I’m making a positive difference for these kids. Also, I feel like I’m really needed and get great support from the CASA staff and Judge Galvin. It’s not a popular volunteer venue because it is too difficult for many people, so I feel like I’m really lucky that it is something I am able to embrace.

    5. And now for a little fun, what’s a hidden talent or unusual fact that most people don’t know about you?

    Gee, I have several, take your pick:

    • I teach scuba diving at IU.
    • Every year I take a group of IU students to South Africa for a class in environmental management and I also take a group of IU students to the Cayman Islands for class in tropical biology.
    • I am retired from the US Forest Service and had a career as a park ranger; I had a number of adventures on large forest fires out west.
    • Through my job with the Forest Service, I spent about two weeks at Ground Zero in New York City assisting the FDNY after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

     Pam Christenberry – April 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    15 months

    2. What brought you to apply to become a CASA?

    My daughter was the victim of abuse at the hands of her father.  I saw first hand that kids need to have an advocate.  For my daughter, she had me, but it left me thinking about those kids who did not have a parent to be their advocate.

    3. Besides being a CASA advocate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

    I enjoy quilting, but am just a beginner.  I also enjoy spending time with my kids and grand-kids and am currently helping my daughter plan her wedding.

    4. What do you love the most about being a CASA?

    I love the kids. Getting hugs from them and being asked not to leave from a visit with them is the best reward.

    5. And now for a little fun, what’s a hidden talent or unusual fact that most people don’t know about you?

    I love disaster movies.  For Christmas, my husband bought me some of my favorites on DVD… Dante’s Peak, 2012, Day after Tomorrow, Volcano, San Andreas, and Core.

    Rob Mobley – March 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Just over a year.

    2. What brought you to apply to become a CASA?

    Being a parent was the most fulfilling event in my life, seeing the development of my own children into caring, self-sufficient and compassionate adults left me feeling successful in my life. I have always believed in our shared responsibility to create an environment where children can thrive. When the local CASA office began offering a training schedule that worked with my corporate work requirement, I signed up for the next available session.

    3. Besides being a CASA advocate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

    I have 6 grandchildren and 2 on the way, so my favorite thing is to spend time with them and their families. I am a lifelong learner and spend quite a bit of time reading and being outside on the B-Line.

    4. What do you love the most about being a CASA?

    I love the connection we get with the CASA staff members, the families we serve, the DCS staff, service providers and the court system. I can honestly see the different we make to a child and the families we get to work with. I see the value of someone dedicated to truly advocate for the best interest of the child. Knowing that each time we are in court, we bring value to the child, to their families, the system and to the judge who has an awesome responsibility for the welfare of our further generation. Knowing we make a difference! The quality and passion of the people we are in contact with provides the energy and motivation to advocate. CASA is an opportunity to be a part of something wonderful and something that is greater than I could ever do on my own. I see those who serve our children as super heroes, and in CASA, I get to be in the presence of super heroes frequently!

    5. And now for a little fun, what’s a hidden talent or unusual fact that most people don’t know about you?

    I don’t know if I have a hidden talent, because I like to be involved in so many things, I have to use everything that I have! I can’t hold back.

    Connie Carney – February 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA a little over two years.

    2. What brought you to apply to become a CASA?

    I like advocacy. I was a deputy public defender in Arkansas many, many years ago and found the work with FINS (Family in Need of Services) children the most rewarding client work and the most likely work to effect positive change.

    3. Besides being a CASA advocate, what do you like to do in your spare time?

    I don’t have any spare time 🙂 I have two kids and am involved in their activities, am an LLM student in health law policy at Mckinney Law School, teach freshman composition courses as an adjunct lecturer at IU. If I had free time I would write and read more – maybe exercise – I know I should, and I would definitely become involved in the Women Writing for Change group in Bloomington.

    4. What do you love the most about being a CASA?

    I like the relationships with the CASA community – and it is a community. Also, it is rewarding to see that even when things do not go as you hope they would, your efforts can still better the lives of the children just by bringing issues to the surface to establish continuum for future intervention.

    5. And now for a little fun, what’s a hidden talent or unusual fact that most people don’t know about you?

    I met my  husband when I was six years old. He was a neighbor, and we were childhood friends. He is pretty sweet.