One of CASA for Children’s biggest supporters is the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation. The Child Welfare Foundation’s mandate is to help nonprofit organizations with projects that have a positive impact on children’s lives. I am proud that the American Legion considers CASA for Children a worthy cause, and I am grateful for their continued support.
The American Legion is the nation’s largest veteran’s service organization. Legionnaires are veterans and active-duty servicemen and women who have pledged to serve their communities. I am particularly impressed with the American Legion’s recognition of the individual’s obligation to the community, state and nation. This is a value we share, and it strikes me as one that is particularly necessary these days, when it is so easy to believe that everyone is “in it” for themselves.
I’ve been pondering how our shared value—the individual’s responsibility to the community—shines through the work of CASA for Children. It is, and always has been, a mistake to assume that government can assume the full responsibility to parent children who cannot live safely at home. Of course, government-operated child protection systems are necessary, but the government cannot take on the role of parent for any child. It is only through the involvement of individual community members that this crucial human aspect of protecting abused and neglected children can be fully carried out.
When a community member is trained and steps up in court to be sworn in as a CASA volunteer, it is a powerful expression of this very American value. Through the actions of the CASA volunteer, this shared value is transformed into a relationship that can in turn change a child’s life.
Jeremy is one child among thousands. He never knew his father. When Jeremy was 10, his mother became addicted to prescription painkillers. By the time Jeremy turned 12, he had been in and out of nine foster homes. During his short life up to that point, he had learned one thing, “Never trust an adult. They never keep their promises.”
But then two people entered Jeremy’s life and changed his mind: his CASA volunteers. A husband and wife team who were there for Jeremy every step of the way. They stuck by him, fought for his best interests, and gave him a voice, until he found a safe, permanent, loving home with an aunt and uncle. Now Jeremy calls his CASA volunteers “his honorary gram and pop.”
Building trust; living up to your commitments to children; making our communities and our nation better by making children’s lives better. These are things CASA volunteers do every day, just as Legionnaires have done through their military service and in their private lives.
Take responsibility for the abused and neglected children in your community. Volunteer. Donate. Join the movement.