Changing a Child’s Life…and My Own

Thank you to Changing a Child’s Life…and My OwnElaine Leist, volunteer with CASA Kane County, Geneva, IL, for writing this guest post.

People like to say that things happen for a reason. Sometimes I think they are consoling themselves, putting a positive spin on an unexpected, or even tragic, turn of events.

For most of my life, I had no need for such explanations. I was blessed to have spent my life in the small town where I was born, surrounded by a loving family and cherished friends. There were few occurrences in my life that I could not explain or embrace.

Then about four years ago my husband was offered a new job that he could not refuse, one that required our relocating to Chicago, over 300 miles from everything that was familiar—including my grandchildren and a 20-year teaching career.

Once settled near the Windy City, I began looking for venues that would allow me to be with people and again be of some use to someone. When I heard about the CASA program, I suspected it would fill a void in my life. Little did I know what life lessons I would learn.

My CASA training gave me an in-depth look into the social service system, the foster care system and the judicial system. To be honest, I had no real interest in learning about this before. It seemed like a world removed from mine, and one that I could not effect. CASA showed me otherwise. I learned that as an advocate, I could make a difference in the lives of children caught in a place of confusion and fear—where time can literally stand still for them.

I completed CASA volunteer training and was given my first case immediately. This began my 2-½ year relationship with Billy, a very special little boy with many special needs. Billy had been removed from his young parents’ unsafe home at 14 months of age, and it appeared he would not be going back. My experience in early childhood education helped me recognize what supports Billy needed and gave me confidence in advocating for them.

After three years, Billy found his forever home with his paternal grandparents. While he still struggles with behavior issues in school and will continue to require therapies to address his special needs, he is thriving in their care.

Shortly after I said good-bye to Billy, I received a call from my volunteer supervisor, asking me if I would be willing to take on another child—his half-brother! Again, I worked with caseworkers, judges and others to find a home for another dear child.

I became a CASA volunteer to fill the void that I recognized in my own life. But I did not realize that something else, something unrecognized yet very important, had been missing: an understanding of a world that exists in our midst but we might never see.

Maybe things do happen for a reason.

Read more CASA volunteer stories at CASAforChildren.org.

This entry was posted in Child Abuse Prevention, Child Advocacy, Foster Care, General, Volunteer, Youth. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Changing a Child’s Life…and My Own

  1. I do consider all the ideas you’ve introduced to your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too brief for newbies. May you please prolong them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  2. Rimbom says:

    Many thanks for being my own leutcrer on this theme. I enjoyed your own article quite definitely and most of all preferred the way in which you handled the issues I regarded as controversial. You happen to be always really kind towards readers much like me and aid me in my life. Thank you.

  3. Charlene says:

    Have you ever thought about crenitag an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would value your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e mail.

  4. Sherly says:

    We would like to thank you once again for the lovely ideas you gave Jeremy when periarpng her own post-graduate research and, most importantly, pertaining to providing many of the ideas in one blog post. Provided we had known of your web site a year ago, we’d have been kept from the useless measures we were taking. Thanks to you.

  5. Nancy says:

    Yes, adopting from foetsr care is much easier. There is no guarantee, though, so hearts on both sides can be broken. A friend of mine was set to adopt her foetsr daughter when very suddenly she was given back to her biological parents and taken out of state. If you are willing to be a foetsr parent with the goal of providing good care for children in crisis, that would be a better approach to start and then if you end up getting to adopt a child, yay!

    • Olabamiwo says:

      . Your favorite jacoifisutitn appeared to be at the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed at the same time as other folks consider concerns that they plainly don’t recognise about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the entire thing with no need side effect , people can take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thank you

  6. Mckailie Carnahan says:

    Elaine Leist, I can not thank you enough for what you are doing. I am currently writing a research paper for College English and my topic is Child Abuse and Neglect. The thesis of my paper is: “Some people say and believe that kids have a better chance if they just stay with their biological parents instead of being tossed into foster care, even if their psychological and physical needs aren’t being met, but at some point you have to draw the line with unfit parenting and how many chance you can hand out just for a child to have the “ideal life.” It is people like you Elaine, who make my thesis possible. I have seen many kids just through my own work place(daycare center) not have the opportunity to have a host parent. Just in 2011, there was a nationally estimated 1,570 children died from abuse and neglect, because they didn’t get the opportunity to find a more suitable home. Many children who were abused and neglected and don’t get the help they need usually take on the same actions. They say 30% of children who go through abuse or neglect repeat the same actions with their own children. What you chose to do Elaine is more than just giving a child a home, but actually saving them from future destruction. Thank you for all you do!

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