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  • Monroe County CASA News

    VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

    Cheryl Rich – March 2021 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I completed the training in early September 2020 and was assigned my first case in mid-September.

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

    Timing and opportunity! I had often heard about the CASA program and thought volunteering would be a way I could add value, but I wasn’t sure I could make the commitment and didn’t pursue it. I worked with kids on a literacy program and in various volunteer roles over the years and was often amazed by their individual uniqueness and insights. These experiences also made me more aware of how children can be affected by things outside their control. Seeing the inequity that came to light during the pandemic motivated me to hesitate no longer and sign up for training.

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

    In my spare time, I like to spend time with my family, work outside on the yard and cook (sometimes old favorites and sometimes something new). I do miss traveling, so I hope to spend some spare time in the near future planning some memorable family vacations.

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

    Looking back on the past 5 months, I have to say it is spending time with the kids and getting to know them has been the most enjoyable. I have also enjoyed building and being part of a team. Solutions have not always been so clear until we all put our heads together. I am also thankful for a great supervisor that is always there for counsel.

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

    Well, I have lived in 2 other countries, besides the US, and 6 different states. I have also taken lessons in four different languages (Spanish, Italian, French and Chinese) and can speak none of them fluently!

    Dan Cates – February 2021 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I participated along with about a dozen wonderful fellow trainees in the training sessions held this past fall and I began working with my family in December 2020.

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

    After retiring from a career as a public education administrator in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, my wife and I moved full-time to Bloomington last June. For many kids, before they even get to the bus stop, their lives are impacted by numerous systems and decisions that are beyond their control. CASA stands out as one of the rare agencies whose sole purpose is to ensure that the voices and best interests of children take top priority and it’s wonderful to be a part.

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

    My wife and I greatly enjoyed learning pickleball this year and we are ready for our first full gardening season in Bloomington. I enjoy yoga and I’m looking forward to getting back to the studio to practice with others.

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

    Each time I make an “extra” unscheduled contact or visit with the family, a teacher, or any of the service providers, I sense that we all gather a little more wind in our sails and encouragement to make the next extra effort. No family gets to CASA on a winning streak, but CASA invites all of us to be part of creating one.

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

    For years, I’ve had this screenplay in my head. This past November I participated in the national novel writing month and benefited from setting accountable goals to write it out as a novel. Now I have the first draft of a hot mess, but it’s on paper!

    Randy Gratz – January 2021 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I was a member of the June 2020 training group, and, then became an “official” volunteer in July.

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

    As a former public school teacher and then long-term administrator, I had the privilege of working with several CASA volunteers, many of whom were retired school teachers and administrators. As a result, I often witnessed the passion and caring of the CASA volunteers in discussing students who were on their case loads. As a teacher and principal, my focus was always on disenfranchised students, and, to see the support that CASA volunteers provided for many of the same students I worked with, was powerful from my perspective. I often discussed the process of becoming a CASA volunteer with many of the volunteers, and, followed through after moving to Bloomington to kick off my retirement!

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

    I’m involved with the Hoosier Hills Food Bank, specifically delivering food boxes on a monthly basis to an apartment complex in Bloomington (my connection to this opportunity is the Unitarian Universalist Church). Although due to Covid-19, one of my passions is somewhat on hold. As a bassist in four different area bands, I was, and hope to be more engaged, again, in performing at various venues in Bloomington, South Central Indiana, and Brown County in the near future. I play in two big bands, a Hoagy Carmichael tribute band, and an eclectic band playing 60’s/70’s music. Finally, kayaking and cycling round out my retirement (and, waiting on the fantastic IU Student Recitals to reopen again!).

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

    One of the driving forces that led me to begin my 41 years as a public educator was to engage with at-risk students and families. Working with students who faced a variety of social and/or economic barriers has always motivated me to provide supports and resources in order to either remove or lessen the impact of those barriers. As a result, having now been focused on advocating for two CASA youth, I am able to reconnect with my passion to problem solve, advocate, and be a consistent support for my assigned young people. This is what I most appreciate about the opportunity to be a CASA volunteer.

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

    Probably because I’m somewhat frugal (others may use a different term-cheap?), I, along with another teaching colleague of mine, built my first house from the foundation up, in Brown County. Not having enough fun with that multi-month project, I built our second home from the foundation up. Two house builds was enough, however, but what an exercise in perseverance, problem solving, and patience (coupled with two great homes!!). Both houses are still standing, and paid dividends when I sold both!

    Cheryl Frank – December 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA volunteer for 12 years.

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

    When I retired from teaching elementary school, my husband, a public defender, recommended that I become a CASA. Being unfamiliar with what a CASA was or did, I was reluctant to volunteer. After seeing CASA ads on three separate occasions – one being a billboard, I took it as a sign that I was supposed to become a CASA. That was 21 cases and 36 children ago.

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

    Since my retirement, I have enjoyed traveling, playing bridge, and remodeling my house. I look after my 97 year old mother. I avidly cheer on IU basketball teams and loved buying basketball tickets at the CASA galas. It was a lifetime treat to get tickets behind the bench!

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

    I love seeing children end up in a home where they are safe and happy and where they can achieve their full potential. I am gratified by the love foster parents have for children that come into their care and how they are able to help the children recover from the traumas they have experienced. I enjoy collaborating with team members on the case to help families and children re-establish stability in their lives. I especially like working with the CASA staff and attending CASA functions. My friend, Karen Adams, and I became mutli-case CASAs together. It is wonderful to have a friend that shares your passion for helping children. It has deepened our friendship and made us a familiar duo at CASA.

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

    There are a couple of things people may not know about me. The first is that I am a cat lover! I find it difficult to resist buying anything with a cat on it – thus, the cat theme that you see popping up in almost every room of my house. Second, I just learned that I love pickleball! It is a perfect game for friends who can’t safely sit around a bridge table at this time.

    Randy Pitt – November 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA since the December 2015 graduating class.

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

    My wife, Jane, actually suggested it not really expecting I would look into it. As I approached retirement I needed something to give back to others, so I contacted a couple of the board members and another CASA to see what it was like. Even with their experiences, being a Child Advocate is nothing like I or my wife expected. However, it has been one of the best decisions I have made, so much so that I took on a multiple case load for the last two years.

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

    I love to ride motorcycles, woodwork, fly-fish and play pickleball. And knowing a little about video games helps to connect with kids these days.

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

    Figuring out ways to connect to a child and then implementing them. Each child has a different response to their CASA and it is not enough just for us to be there. Seeing kids waiting at their door with a smile on their face as you approach is extremely rewarding.

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

    I have written and published an adventure novel utilizing a local publishing house. Some day I’ll get the second one done!

    Karen Adams – October 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for 5 1/2 years.

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

    I have always been drawn to children in need and worked with children of at risk populations before my retirement. Two dear friends and mentors, Cheryl Frank and Ellen Brantlinger, encouraged me to become a CASA when I retired. I’m doing this work for children and in honor of their exceptional work and volunteerism for children in need throughout their careers and in retirement.

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

    I love to get together with family and friends. I love beaches and traveling. All of this has been harder or impossible to do of late, so I’m enjoying spending lots of time with my cats and in my flower gardens. I also love to read!

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

    What I love most is definitely developing relationships with the children! They have been put in these situations through no fault of their own. I love seeing them find themselves and move forward with their lives, whether it is reuniting with their parents or finding a forever home with a new family. It is heartwarming to be a part of their journey to find happiness.

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

    I used to ski every spring break in Colorado. I have skied moguls and black diamond slopes but found true enjoyment on the gentler slopes.  My favorite times were being one of the first skiers out on the mountain in the mornings. At that time there is hardly anyone one the slopes and the snow is fresh. It is so quiet and beautiful looking out over the snow covered ground and trees. There is nothing like it! When I need to get away from life and visualize my “happy place”, my mind goes to those early mornings on the ski slopes.

    Jenny Bass – September 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Since November, 2016 – I came in with the last presidential election.

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

    From the time I moved to Bloomington in 1986 and heard about CASA, I wanted to do this work. But of course life and family and job seemed to take up too much space. I served on the CASA board for a few years, then in September, 2016 I left my job of 20 years. That week I signed up for training (thanks Kristin for squeezing me in last minute!).

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

    I keep pretty busy. In good weather I row out at Lake Lemon, and get out with my dog and husband for hikes in the Southern Indiana woods. I am involved with community organizing and election volunteering through Hoosier Action. And I work part time at IU creating podcasts for a gender studies project called Just Married.

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

    The kids, of course! Watching them thrive and find some stability, safety and love in their home, wherever that may be. These months without hugs and in-person visits have been really challenging.

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

    My brain is full of song lyrics. I might forget your name but I can pull out songs from Motown to Broadway.

    Shanker Krishnan – August 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for 5 months. Our group of ten trainees completed the training in late February. On our way back from being sworn in by Judge Galvin, I was assigned to my first case.

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

    With work and family commitments, my previous volunteering efforts tended to be short term and less intense. As a recent empty nester this was a good opportunity to get more involved in the local community. I had met many CASAs and they all spoke very highly of this opportunity to help kids.

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

    Other than spending time with family, I enjoy reading, playing tennis, going to the farmer’s market, practicing yoga (before the pandemic). You might also see me at one of Btown’s restaurants or brewpubs supporting our local businesses.

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

    The kids! Each kid is so different, and I have enjoyed getting to know each kid. It has been a challenge to have conversations on ZOOM but it is getting better every week. I look forward to being able to visit with them in person in the near future.

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

    Back in the days of wood tennis racquets and one handed backhands, I played on the tennis pro tour for a few years. My ranking never reached the heights that I could make money from the sport but I did get to travel across four continents.

    Martha Shedd – July 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for a little more than 2 years.

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

    I kept seeing notifications about how great the need in Monroe and surrounding counties was. Over the years, I have volunteered for many organizations. Seeing the notices and some nudging by a dear friend came at a time when I was no longer needed as my mother’s caregiver. Understanding I am very fortunate to have had the upbringing I had in comparison to so many, I had no excuse not to help.

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

    I enjoy being outside. I love to be active by running and cycling. I am energized by being a volunteer for CASA as well as other organizations. My husband and I just finished remodeling a 100-year old house which was a huge, fun challenging undertaking!

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

    With the AMAZING support of my CASA Case Manager (no way would my kid be where she is without her support) we changed someone’s life. This wonderful, kind, caring naive child now has a future. Together with DCS, we found not just a safe place for this child, but a place where she could and IS thriving. She is in a loving foster home environment. Her foster mom and siblings are providing her the experience that every child should have. This child is loved by many. I might be at the top of that list 🙂

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

    I once went snowboarding and played 18-holes of golf on the same day.

    Anne Haynes – June 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for 7 years!

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

    My spouse and other people I knew were CASAs, and I was impressed by hearing about their praise of our local CASA program and staff. Working with children was something I really wanted to do. After I retired from my career as a librarian, I applied for the training.

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

    I love gardening, playing piano, taking exercise and yoga classes, doing fiber arts, creative cooking, and visiting family in other states when possible.

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

    Witnessing children being resilient and reaching their potential despite having roadblocks in their lives. And seeing happy families together at adoption time! Working with the CASA staff has been a joy.

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

    We have a small permaculture orchard at home and I like to experiment with growing fruits, herbs, flowers, and vegetables, including some uncommon ones.

    Hana Cleveland – May 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Since November 2018

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

    I wanted to get involved in the community and I’ve always enjoyed volunteering. I felt like this was an opportunity where I could really make a difference and have a positive impact in someone’s life.

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

    I love gardening and rock climbing and before the spread of COVID-19 I was enjoying learning to Latin dance!

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

    The time spent connecting and getting to know the kids. I love watching them grow, become more empowered, and make positive changes in their lives.

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

    I speak Wolof! It is the language of Senegal.

    Kathleen Boggess – April 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I was retrained in 2016.

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

    While a graduate student in the 1980’s, I volunteered for five years and then became the part-time director of the Guardian Ad Litem program, now called CASA. I left that position to be a counselor in MCCSC. After retiring I decided to return as a volunteer because it is one of the most important volunteer positioning in the county.

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

    All four of my grandchildren live in Bloomington so I often am attending cross country meets, baseball games, ukulele concerts and other fun things they do. My husband and I drive for Meals on Wheels; I serve on that board. I do various things for my church, mostly connecting with older members through phone calls or card sending. I also enjoy golfing, swimming, yoga, Mah Jong and bridge.

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

    I enjoy the interaction with all individuals involved in the cases. My cases have all required close contact with the schools; having worked in the schools I know individuals that have connected me to the appropriate school personnel. But the children are the best reason for being a CASA. Helping them navigate their situations through a very stressful time of their lives is the most meaningful.

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

    The first year I taught in Minnesota I lived in the upstairs of a retired couple. The gentleman caned chairs. My sister had a chair she wanted caned. When I asked the man if he would cane it for her, he said no but I will teach you how to do it. So I have known how to cane chairs cane for fifty plus years and have caned several. How wise he was to pass on his gift.

    Terry Usrey – March 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Since early 2016, so four years.

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

    Probably like many CASA volunteers, I had multiple motivations.  I was coming up on retirement and knew I would have a little more time and flexibility in my life. Being a parent, and a former school teacher, I knew I liked being around kids and that I cared about their welfare. I was volunteering in a variety of ways, but I didn’t feel like my time and efforts were making much of a difference; becoming a CASA seemed like I would have a decent chance to make a difference.  I really respected​ a friend and neighbor (Gary Friedman) who was, and is a long-time CASA.  All these factors were in play when I saw the CASA training opportunity posted in the local paper, so I called!

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

    I am a hiking trail builder with the Hoosier Hikers Council.  I am a volunteer property steward for the Sycamore Land Trust. I am a persistent DIY guy, doing home and garden projects for myself and with friends. I walk/hike 30 miles a week. I visit Seattle as often as possible to be with my daughter and son-in-law.

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

    The thing I love most about being a CASA is my in-person time with the kids. While there is a serious and important aspect when visiting (assessing safety, are their needs being met, am I doing everything possible to advocate for them), I also try to make the interactions at least little bit fun and happy.

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

    I am annoyed about many aspects of modern culture, so I do my part to resist several negative (in my opinion) trends by keeping a “never list”. For example, I have never purchased anything from Starbucks, never used an ATM, never exercise with ear-phones, never purchase lottery tickets or gamble in any way, I refuse to use any drive-through, and more!

    Ashley Mann – February 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA volunteer since 2018.

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

    Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. When I became a mother in 2012, my ability to volunteer was severely limited. Once my son started first grade, I wanted to get back into volunteering somewhere in the community. I decided I didn’t plan on having any more of my own children, but I knew I had plenty of room inside for the love and protection of other children. I remember hearing the shocking statistics of the number of children in the juvenile court system in Indiana and I decided that was where I wanted to focus when I returned to volunteering.

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

    I’m a single mother, so honestly, I don’t have too much spare time. My son and I love going to museums, watching basketball and soccer games, and playing board and card games.  I also serve as the philanthropy coordinator for my son’s cub scout pack. I’m a big fan of the outdoors, no matter the season, so I very much enjoy hiking, camping, and bicycling. When I do get a few free moments here and there, I love to read!

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

    Seeing my kids understand that there are people who care about them and are there for them.

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

    I was classically trained on the piano as a kid for many years, but I have absolutely no desire or passion to play!

    Anne Owens – January 2020 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA volunteer for over 9 years.

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

    After I retired, I became a CASA because I wanted to do something as a volunteer that would benefit children.

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

    Because my physical handicap keeps me from being on my feet too long, I do a lot of knitting and crocheting. I make afghans and hats and give them away. I enjoy meeting with friends and traveling with my daughter.

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

    What I love most about being a CASA is getting to know the children and seeing their resilience. I like that I am learning all the time about how children survive. I like to believe that I am doing something valuable for them.

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

    People may not know that I have three adopted children, two who are adults, and a seventeen-year-old. Also, I have published a book about children.

    Ed Long – December 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I was sworn in as a CASA on September 5, 2019.

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

    After I retired from the insurance business, I was looking for ways to give back to the community and to help children in need. I was a middle school teacher when I was in my 20’s and also did have some familiarity with the juvenile court system where I used to live.  I was especially interested in helping kids who were in the system through no fault of their own. The CASA program seemed like the perfect match for me. And it would still allow me to enjoy my retirement and do some traveling.

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

    In my spare time, I do a lot of reading, keeping up on current events and am a member of a hiking club. I try to work out at the YMCA on a regular basis and also volunteer at my church and the local community radio station, WFHB.

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

    My favorite part of being a CASA are the kids and knowing that I am advocating for them. I also enjoy the many connections with CASA staff and learning about the Bloomington community, since I just moved here in June.

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

    One thing that most people don’t know about me is that I was a programmer/disc jockey at a community radio station in Lincoln, Nebraska for about 20 years. I did a weekly 2-hour show featuring folk and acoustic music, which is nowadays sometimes referred to as ‘Americana.’

    Julie Schaefer – November 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for two years!

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

    I had just finished up a term on a local board, when I heard a Monroe County CASA radio advertisement. I was looking for a meaningful, direct service opportunity and CASA seemed like a great fit for me. I must admit that I procrastinated for a few weeks before applying. I didn’t think that I had the right background or enough time, but I kept thinking about the ad. I am so glad that I finally took the chance to become a CASA!

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

    I spend most of my spare time with my three daughters, Mira (11) Maya(5) and Mona (3), my husband PK, and our three dogs. Any other spare time is spent traveling, kickboxing, and reading!

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

    I love that my role is to put the interests of the child first.

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

    On my dad’s side of the family, I come from a long line of brew masters and brewery owners.

    Vicky Sorensen – October 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Ten years

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

    Under my name in my 1965 yearbook I stated that I wanted to be a Social Worker and work with children. After raising my two sons, I fulfilled that statement and at the age of 50 I received my Social Work degree from IU. Two weeks after graduation from IU I became a Family Case Manager for Healthy Families of Monroe County working with families of newborns making sure the child was up-to-date on shots, age appropriate development, and finding community resources for either the child or the family. Within two years I became the Program Manager until I took early retirement. Within a year of retirement I realized how much I missed working with families and took the training to become a CASA.

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

    My spare time is spent being on the Grace Center, Inc. board (as well as volunteering at the food pantry on Thursday afternoons), the Treasurer for the Monroe County Democratic Women’s Caucus, board member of the Monroe Fire Protection District and the best spare time spent is when I have visits with my granddaughter and grandson who live in the Chicago area.

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

    There are many reasons what I love about being a CASA, but I think there are two main reasons for me: trust and always providing a safe environment for the child.

    I have learned that it takes time for some children to learn to trust you. The first time the child smiles at you as you enter the room, I know the child trusts me as the person who supports them for who they are. Providing a safe environment was confirmed to me when recently I was shopping at Kroger, when I heard my name as a young lady approached me. It was a mother from a case a couple years back. She brought me up to date on her and her daughter and then thanked me for making sure her daughter was safe at all times while she was trying to get her life back together. That “thank you” for keeping her daughter safe is why we are CASA volunteers.

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

    When I was 15 my family went to Washington DC to visit a friend of my Dad’s who was in charge of the President’s plane. During our visit my Dad’s friend arranged for us to personally meet President Kennedy on a day the President was flying back to DC. When President Kennedy extended his hand to me to shake I was so mad that Jackie was not with him that I crossed my arms and refused to shake his hand. I remember the President chuckled and then proceeded to shake hands with my parents, my sister and brother.

    Ivy McCammon – September 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Since April 2013.

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

    Since I retired from being a Nursing Home Administrator, I got involved with a few different volunteer endeavors such as Hospice, Habitat, Indiana Legal Services, and Thriving Connections, etc. My parents always were helping people who needed assistance in one way or another.

    When I taught elementary in the late 70’s, I reported some incidents to administration about suspected abuse and neglect and was told to butt out. That has bothered me to this day. I had no idea that by signing up to be a CASA the enormity of children who didn’t have anyone to advocate for them. I’m pretty good at figuring out where to look and then secure things for the kiddos that DCS was unable to do.

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

    In my spare time I am outside working in my yard and flower areas. With 13 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren, there are a lot of sports, and extra-curricular events and grandparent day, graduations, weddings, etc.  Most of my kiddos live in other states so I get to travel.  My newest hobby is raising milkweed for monarch butterflies. The baby “cats” have to be fed and housed in a habitat so they are not food for wasps, etc.

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

    I enjoy being able to interact with so many other agencies and their representatives and can often utilize my background to give input. I was amazed that a lot of teachers aren’t aware of simple things to help a child who has ADHD is one example. I feel satisfaction when a judge or an attorney and yes, sometimes a parent, thanks me for everything I did that made a difference to a child.

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

    When I was younger, I often played taps at military funerals. I have no ability to do that anymore and sold my trumpet several years ago! You might find me on a ladder painting my house, either inside or outside.

    Jennifer Foutty – August 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I am a new CASA. I took the training in February/March 2019 and was sworn in by Judge Galvin in March 2019. I got my first case just a few weeks later.

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

    I have a very good friend who was a CASA for many years, and I realized through her what important work this is. I felt I had to wait until I retired in order to do my best in this role, and the week after I retired, I started my training.

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

    I like to read literature, history, and biography. I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles. And I love to travel, although with being retired my finances don’t permit me to do that as much as I would like.

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

    The children! Now that I am in the middle of a case, it is so evident that my voice is the one speaking for the children’s interests and only for their interests. The children in my first case are wonderful and I hate that they have been through trauma. I’m so glad I can be there for them and give them a voice.

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

    I have a goal to visit all 50 states, and I only have 4 left.

    Jim Shelton – July 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for 6 years and 8 months.

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

    I was a classmate of then-Director, Jill Jolliff, in the Leadership Bloomington Monroe County program and so first learned about CASA. With encouragement from Sandy Garrett and Dave Wright that I would be good at it, I applied and went through the training after I retired.

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

    Since I’m retired, all my time is spare. I keep busy as the County Liaison for the Chamber of Commerce and as a member of the County Redevelopment Commission. I am a member of the CASA Community Engagement Committee and enjoy giving talks about CASA. And I get to the YMCA to walk or lift weights as I can.

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

    I like knowing I’m making a strong contribution to making things better for the families involved in my cases. I like encouraging the parents if they’re trying and I like helping them and the children understand what is going on. I also enjoy working with the CASA staff from whom I’ve learned a lot.

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

    I officiate IU Track and Cross Country meets when I can.

    Tamara Saltzman – June 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I am not sure I remember exactly how long I have been a CASA. Either November of 08 or 09.

    (We checked! Tamara became an advocate in November of 2009.)

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

    “I have always wanted to give back to the community, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I looked into the CASA program and decided that I would help children have a voice. I am a Paralegal and work in family law and thought being a CASA would be something I could do.”

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

    I like to spend time with my family, garden, and I like to paint old furniture.

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

    I love being able to help children. I enjoy helping to make decisions for them that give them a chance to be all they can be.

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

    In college I played intercollegiate badminton. I went to Nationals in California my senior year.

    Alayna Gray – May 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA since March of 2018 and have just recently started my second case.

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

    During college I volunteered with the children’s program at Middle Way House which instilled a desire in me to do more to be a voice for children. Since that time, as a teacher and school administrator I frequently worked with children who were in need of services but my role did not always allow me to be the active participant in the process that I wanted. Nearly 30 years later, I was finally able to take the training, and I’m so very thankful that I did.

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

    Being married to a coach and having two children involved in athletics, my free time is often spent in bleachers cheering them on! I love to bake and make candy, and I’m also doing a little dabbling in genealogy. Locally, I have been involved in the Auxiliary to the Boys and Girls Club, and I’m currently an active member of Tri Kappa, a philanthropic organization that promotes charity, culture and education.

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

    I love being able to make a connection with the children and for them to know that I am by their side wherever their situation leads.

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

    I have a varying range of interests…..a great example of this would be that I watch Antiques Roadshow every Monday night and I am also a huge fan of the band KISS (I got to meet them a few years ago!).

    Michele Simms – April 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a proud CASA volunteer for almost 5 years. I was interested in joining for years prior to signing up for training but was in the middle of a graduate program, earning a master’s degree in nursing. Only two weeks after completing that in May of 2014, I started CASA training.

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

    I have been a pediatric/obstetric nurse for almost 20 years, so I’ve worked with many families over the years helping them with their children’s physical, mental and behavioral health care concerns. I’ve also been interested in criminal justice, social work and have a psychology degree from IU Bloomington. I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with children and families that need extra support and fulfill my passion for advocacy, helping those families that are going through a difficult time.

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

    I am currently the Pediatric Care Manager for the IU Health SIP Riley Physicians outpatient pediatric practice. Prior to that, I was a bedside nurse, charge nurse and manager for the Women and Children’s Services at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. I am currently on the board of the Monroe County CARES, a member of the Department of Child Services (DCS) Child Protection Team, an active member of our Monroe County System of Care and a member of the Monroe County Suicide Coalition. In my spare time (I find some, usually!), I enjoy reading, camping and spending time with my family: my husband, two children and our beagle. My most fulfilling role is being a mother: my daughter has her own home, is a pharmacy technician and engaged to be married next year and my son is a freshman in college, studying graphic design and sports management and works for IU.

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

    Being a CASA is challenging at times but the support that you get from the staff is amazing. I like collaborating with all the staff, the DCS staff, the biological families, the foster families and all the hard working service providers. Most of all, I just enjoy getting to know the children in my cases; I’ve been a CASA for 11 children so far, from age 1 to age 17 and from all socio-economic statuses and ethnicities.

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

    I have written poems and hope to write a book in the future about being grateful for being you, coping with stress and how to be self-confident and resilient, for all ages. In addition, I hope to offer my home and provide respite care in the future. Thank you for recognizing my love for children!

    Rebecca Brahaum – March 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA since November 2017.

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

    A really close friend of mine is a foster parent. I’ve seen what a different she and her husband have made in the lives of these kids. I knew fostering wasn’t in the cards for me, but I thought this would be a great opportunity to serve the same vulnerable kids.

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

    Besides being a CASA, I work from home doing voice-over for radio, tv, web, etc. (rebeccalindseythevoice.com). I also enjoy watching my two boys play sports and spending time with family and friends.

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

    Kids are amazing, resilient beings. The best part of being a CASA, is seeing that day to day.

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

    Hmm?…no hidden talents here. I don’t know…I’ve never been to a High School reunion? I’ve got a nice 27 year streak going!

    Alan Kosinski – February 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA in Monroe County since I took the intensive weekend training at the end of last summer. However…I was a CASA in Morgan County over 20 years ago, and I worked about 10 cases over a period of about 5 years.

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

    I recently retired from 42 years of public school work (the last 17 at Brown County Schools) in the most recent capacity as Dir. Student Svs./Dir. Special Educ. Much of my school based work was with the Office of Family & Children, Centerstone and Juvenile Probation, so I have been familiar with the family and agency interaction process for a long time. The team approach to solving/mitigating hard cases in the best interest of the children is most effective with committed teams.

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

    I enjoy playing tennis and golf……..do a little martial arts oriented tai chi a couple times a week……… and much enjoy being outdoors for recreation. I read as much as I want for pleasure now that I am retired! I also teach Sunday School/Religious Education at my church.

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

    It is important to help the children who are blameless, often helpless victims of the botched affairs of adults. Any help we can give them as a committed team will make their lives (hopefully a little) better in the future.

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

    In past summers I have been on archaeological digs for dinosaur bones in South Dakota. The cool days were about 100 degrees!

    Anna Easton – January 2019 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I will complete my fourth year as a CASA in February.

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

    During my first year of retirement from teaching, I knew that I wanted to volunteer in some way with children, and I chose CASA.

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

    Some of the things that occupy my spare time are golfing, exercising at the Y, reading, and traveling. In addition, I really enjoy spending time with my teenage grandsons–when they have time for me.

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

    The best part of being a CASA is visiting with the children each month and seeing them being taken care of and in a safe place. I hope that during our short visits I can convey to them how important and valued they are.

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

    An interesting fact is that my husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in May 2019!

    Michalene Reilly – December 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I finished my training in the summer of 2017, so I have been active for just over one year.

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

    As a person who was brought up in a home with two alcoholic parents, the idea of helping children in these types of situations was important to me. I did not have an advocate in my childhood and every kid who gets one has the opportunity to know there is someone who is looking out for their best interests independent of the interests of anyone else in the situation.

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

    I am retired after almost 30 years at a job I loved working for Hoosier Energy. It was a fast paced environment so spare time is not my favorite. I am on two non-profit boards and participate in many of their committees. But that is my spare-spare time. What I really do and love to do is help my family. I get my great-grandson off to school in the morning and meet the bus in the afternoon and I pick up my granddaughter from South every day and take her home. I have wonderful children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that I love to spend time with. I also have a group of women who I mentor and meet with them at all kinds of odd hours. I am blessed to be busy and fulfilled.

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

    My favorite word in the world is HOPE. CASA is about hope. First of all the hope of children being protected. Secondly the hope that with intervention and services families can be reunited into a strong cohesive unit. And finally, if reunifications cannot happen, the hope that children find places where they are loved and where they belong. CASA means HOPE.

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

    Although I am too busy to keep up with it, I love to scrapbook. I love to turn a vacation into a story I can re-live over and over again.

    Scott Todd – November 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a Child Visit Monitor (CVM)?

    I have been a CVM since the completion of my training in June, 2018.

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

    For several years I’ve wanted to learn more about CASA and potentially become involved but hadn’t yet made it a priority. Life is busy and there’s always something else competing for your attention! The CVM position was mentioned in a sermon at my church over the summer and it provided awareness of the role as well as the need for volunteers. It is a great intermediate step for those wanting to become involved without the full training or ongoing time commitment of being a full CASA.

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

    My wife and I have three boys at home so family time is a priority. I also enjoy playing instruments in various musical groups and cycling both on and off road.

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

    The ability to make a measurable difference in the life of a child. For waitlisted kids, there wasn’t anyone to do a cursory evaluation of their living situation, educational progress or emotional status. With this information it can be determined if the child is in need of additional support, and their status is no longer unknown.

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

    I am currently learning how to ride a unicycle. It is a slow process!

    Teri DeMatas – October 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a Child Visit Monitor (CVM)?

    I completed the training in the spring and have been involved in cases for a couple of months.

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

    I am involved with some boards and committees, but I was looking for something where I could have a more hands-on experience helping others. I really also was drawn the flexibility. I work full time, have evening and weekend work related events, and was happy to find something meaningful I could do that would work around my schedule.

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

    Travel, outdoor activities, reading. I also volunteer with Worldwide Friendship Exchange which has been a great opportunity to connect with international college students.

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

    It’s humbling to me that I’m allowed to play a small part in helping these children.  My two placements are very different in age and circumstances but when I leave either I feel the same level of satisfaction and optimism that things will work out in their best interests.

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

    I can do a pretty mean Woody Woodpecker imitation 🙂

    Karen Blocher – September 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Three and a half years

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

    I was fortunate enough to grow up with both my parents and all my siblings in a small midwestern town where our safety and security were never questioned. I wish that for all CASA children. I know we aren’t miracle workers, but I hope to give back in some small way to bring these families one step closer to that security.

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

    I am an avid quilt maker and spend time making charity quilts and gifts for loved ones. I make it a practice to read and write every day, which I also enjoy.

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

    Seeing smiles on the faces of the children I encounter, and ensuring that my contact with that family is always a positive one. I hope in some way to help make their lives a little less stressful and a more optimistic for the future.

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

    I am a Certified Quilt Judge, and travel the country judging quilt shows and competitions. Yes, people compete at everything, including quilting, which has become an art form. In fact, I’m sitting in the Houston airport ready to travel back home after judging an event.

    Lisa Abbott – August 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for one year.

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

    I have been interested in CASA since I helped organize the first Playhouse Raffle (and sold the winning ticket). But, I really wanted to become a CASA to be a voice for children in need. As a mom and a community volunteer, I have seen how important it is for a child to have someone in their corner. I was in a place in my life where I could commit and try to make a difference.

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

    Spare time? What’s that? If I have spare time, I usually fill it. I am also on the Area 10 Agency on Aging Board of Directors. Area 10 is on the other end of the age spectrum, but also an incredibly worthwhile organization. I also teach a class on Community Development for IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs program. Mostly, I just enjoy hanging with my husband Steve. My sons live far away, but I enjoy catching up with them during our weekly Skype session.

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

    My current CASA child is amazing and I enjoy watching her little face light up. I am grateful to be part of a team that is helping someone get their life back on track. I can appreciate that in some small way I am helping this family move forward. Sometimes it is really hard, but it is also very satisfying to be doing something positive when there is just so much negativity surrounding us.

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

    I always think of myself as being pretty ordinary, but if I have a hidden talent it might be that I’m a good baker. Although, it isn’t that hidden because my former co-workers spent years consuming a lot of my baking!

    Marissa Reed – July 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for a little over eight years.

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

    I really wanted to volunteer with kids and do something meaningful in my community. I had considered becoming a foster parent, but ultimately decided that wouldn’t be the best fit for me at the time. Then I saw a CASA billboard and after researching the organization, I knew this would be a good fit for me.

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

    Most of my free time is spent attending my son’s basketball and baseball games. I enjoy outdoor activities, reading, and spending time with family at my parents’ lake house.

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

    What I love most about being a CASA is connecting with the kids I serve. These children deserve to have someone in their lives that are solely focused on them, if even only for a short while. Several of my cases have spanned multiple years, and it has been such an honor watching the kids’ development – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    Armelda Mayfield – June 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for 5 years.

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

    When I retired from teaching I wanted a meaningful way to contribute to the community I had just moved to. I had spent 38 years trying to make a difference in the lives of children, and I wanted to continue to do that. CASA gave me that opportunity.

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

    I enjoy spending time with family and friends, travel, reading, and playing bridge. I also enjoy cross stitch, but haven’t done much lately. It’s something I want to start doing again.

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

    I feel useful and productive when I problem solve and advocate for the best interest of the children. I get satisfaction from trying to help parents make their lives better, and to make stable, safe homes for their children.

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

    I spent almost 14 years living and teaching in Melbourne, Australia. During that time I became an avid Australian Rules Football fan. I would argue there is no better sport in the world.

    Brandi Sears – May 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Since Fall 2012, 5 years

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

    I had finished my undergraduate degree, and had met with a career counselor to discuss possible jobs more related to my degree field; he suggested I start volunteering in the community, to help me determine what areas I was truly interested in. I had heard of CASA before, and it was on the list I had created of possibilities. After learning more about CASAs and what they did, I knew I would love it, and got signed up for an interview and initial meeting as soon as I could. After learning more, it seemed like a perfect way to really make an impact in our community, and seemed like it would be rewarding and a great learning opportunity for me. I was not quite ready for grad school at the time, but did not want to quit learning and growing individually; all the amazing free training opportunities CASA provided, was a great way for me to do that.

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

    I am a graduate student currently, so the only free time in my life right now is watching Friends during study breaks! When not in school, I enjoy being outside and going walking and hiking, doing a variety of craft projects, sitting on the porch with my husband, and traveling to new places.

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

    I love getting to form a relationship with the kids and families we serve. I love to watch the people I interact with grow over the time I work with them. I like the moments I get to encourage and lift up others, who quite frankly, are typically in a low and stressful time period in their lives. I love the feeling at the end of the case knowing I made a huge impact on the future of the children’s lives. I also think the children sometimes realize I am the only one (or sometimes one of the few people, if we are assigned an especially great DCS worker) who knows every part of their lives during an often changing and unstable time period. We as CASAs see them with all biological, foster, adoptive, and sometimes extended families. We see them at school, we know their visit supervisors, we go to doctor’s appointments with them, we spend time with them, we get to know their friends, pets, comforts, likes, and dislikes. Even when they do not understand everything that is transpiring in court, I think our familiar faces can serve as a huge comfort and stability to them.

    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 to go skydiving!

    Larry Brown – April 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for almost two years.

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

    Every year someone would come to the NAACP and say that they needed minority volunteers at CASA. At the time I could not because I was working. One of the first things I did when I retired was to see what I had to do to become a CASA.

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

    I work part time as security at Indiana University football and basketball games. But what I like most of all is being a Prince Hall Mason. The brotherhood, I love it!

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

    Knowing that I did my best for the child, and letting the child know that CASA is there for them.

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

    I have put on a black history month program for the last 15 years at Second Baptist Church. I also enjoy going to black museums when I travel.

    Gail Bridges-Rea – March 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Since Sept 1996 so that would make it 21 plus years. Four of those years, I was as Case Coordinator.

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

    We moved from California and I had some free time and always had said I would like to volunteer more so when I saw the announcement for the CASA training, I applied. I felt my objectivity and tenacity would be useful traits in advocating for a child.

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

    As all our family is outside of Indiana we travel a great deal to keep in touch with our five children and 15 grandkids. Then we travel to see the world. So, Travel, Travel, Travel….

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

    Seeing positive outcomes for some children and the wonderful support system that is provided by CASA staff to the volunteers.

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

    While in Tanzania this past August, I portrayed the role of a Maasai bride when visiting a Maasai village. It was great fun. I also hula hoop for exercise.

    Pete Giordano – February 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Since June 2017.

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

    I had been thinking about it for quite a while and talking to people about it. I would always see the people gathered outside the courtroom as I came into the office. One day I just decided it was time and sent in the application.

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

    I work a bit part-time in the Prosecutor’s office. I try to keep up on reading and some movies as well as traveling to visit friends and family.

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

    For me, it is about trying to make the system work a little bit better for the innocent children that are brought into it through no fault of their own. They are truly the most innocent of victims. If we can make their lives a little better and help them find a way forward, we have done well.

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

    Well it is not a talent, but I really enjoy the old Perry Mason television show on reruns. I find the black and white, 50’s California ‘noir’ appealing.

    Sandy Garrett – January 2018 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA about two years.

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

    I served on the CASA Board of Directors for four years and during that time realized how important it is for these kids in the system to have someone in their corner and give them a voice during court proceedings.

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

    I love reading, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. But I truly love just hanging out with my grandsons and watching them play in their various sporting events.

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

    What I like the most about being a CASA is spending time with the kids and getting to know them, their family and their situation.

    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 have any hidden talents that I can think of, but a fact that people probably don’t know about me is that I retired in April and immediately created my bucket list. One item I want to check off in 2018 is visiting the rest of the 50 states. I have nine states left and I really hope to visit them in the next year.

    Michael Gleeson – December 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    Since June 2015.

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

    A board member told me about the program and encouraged me to apply. The subsequent training was excellent. Both the trainers and trainees convinced me to join up.

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

    I enjoy theater, music, the outdoors, and most of all, my family. My wife accuses me of raising sloth to the level of an art form. I prefer to think I am just good at retirement.

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

    The kids, of course. I am very impressed how much the parties in this difficult system are invested in making it work – the parents and foster parents, the judges, DCS case workers and attorneys, legal aid attorneys, service providers.

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

    This goes under the heading of unusual fact, definitely not “talent”: I am taking soft shoe lessons – a bucket list item.

    Julie Gerstorff – November 2017 Featured Volunteer

    1. How long have you been a CASA?

    I have been a CASA for almost 7 years.

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

    I had previously been misinformed about what a CASA was, and had thought it was actually “respite” care for foster kids. Years later I had overheard a friend explaining it to another. When I realized what the actual role was, I knew it was exactly the volunteer work I wanted to do. I called the next day.

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

    I have four children, two in college and two whom I home school. So my spare time is pretty full. I am also an avid reader and enjoy doing research on a multitude of subjects, most often related to my cases. I enjoy scrapbooking whenever I can get a chance to fit it into my schedule.

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

    There are so many things I love about being a CASA. First of all, I love the kids! I haven’t yet found one with whom I haven’t fallen in love! The resiliency of children never ceases to amaze me. I love to see their lives change for the better, because of a CASA’s intervention. Secondly, I love to see families overcome great obstacles in order to preserve/regain their lives and to move forward. Alongside of that, when preservation of the biological family fails, seeing my kids move into loving and intact adoptive families is rewarding. Being able to be a part of this process is incredibly humbling and a blessing. Finally, I have done a vast amount of volunteer work. When being a CASA gets tough (and even when it’s easy), the CASA supervisors and staff are the absolute BEST support! I have never worked or volunteered in any environment that provides even a portion of the support I get from Monroe County CASA. I am very grateful for them!

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

    Most people don’t realize I have been a registered nurse (BSN) for 25 years. I have worked in pediatrics, mostly, but I have also worked/volunteered as a school nurse, critical care nurse, forensic (jail) nurse, camp nurse, missions nurse and I was a Captain in the US Air Force for 13 years.

    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.