National CASA helps to develop an average of two new local CASA programs every month. The birth of every program provides an opportunity to learn about that community, its challenges and its greatest strengths. Kym Miller, CASA coordinator for the Kenaitze Tribal CASA Program, AK, recently shared her story of the creation of the first CASA program in the remote Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of Alaska.
Sitting in my office one day I began to daydream and vision CASA spreading to the whole state of Alaska. New programs that could advocate for children like me—Alaska Native children, who desperately needed better advocacy and someone who would help them.
My daydream was abruptly interrupted by the sound of the phone ringing. On the other end of the phone was Michael Heaton, National CASA western region program officer.
Michael asked: “Would you be interested in coming on board to start more tribal programs in Alaska?” What an answer to prayer—and that he would call me right when I was lost in my vision and dream! I yelled back into the phone, “Yes! Yes!”
In November 2010, the Bethel program—YK Delta CASA—swore in its first class of five volunteers in a ceremony attended by community elders, tribal leaders, the mayor of Bethel and a state representative.
Read Kym Miller’s full story about new CASA programs for Alaska’s tribal communities on our website.