CASSANDRA JENKINS — CASA story leads to mother’s help of neglected children
Published 12:06 am Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Have you ever had a moment, something you’ve seen, heard or read, that you somehow knew was going to be important for the future, even if you didn’t know why or how just yet?
Well, I had that moment about four months ago. I was proofreading a story my publisher had written for the Greater Port Arthur The Magazine November edition. The headline read, “All children deserve a voice.”
It was a story on the CASA volunteers for Jefferson County.
A CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer, the article read, “is a dedicated member of the community who is appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interest of an abused or neglected child in the state’s foster system.”
The story immediately caught my attention, simply because I never knew that a program like that existed for kids in child protective services.
I read the article through, making my corrections, and by the end of it, for some unknown reason, I felt like I needed to file the information away for later.
Originally, I thought it was going to be important to me. Something I may want to do in the future, but, as it turns out, it was important for an entirely different reason and an entirely different person — my mom.
A little over a month ago, my mom, Lisa Solis, came to me and told me she was ready to get back into the workforce after taking a long hiatus to raise five children, including me. She told me she was interested in going back into childcare as a teacher or, perhaps, child advocacy.
I knew immediately the perfect program she could start in. I told her about the article I had read a couple months prior at work and asked if she’d like, I could find out more information about becoming a volunteer. She said yes.
I re-read the article. I looked up the program online. I found that CASA was statewide and there was an opportunity available in our home county of Liberty. Their program was starting training in February, two weeks after I gave her the information.
On Monday, she swore in at the Liberty County Courthouse as one of five new CASA volunteers.
“I wanted to do something that helped children,” she said. “(My daughter) mentioned the CASA program and how I’d be perfect for it. So I looked it up, and it was definitely something I wanted to do and thought I would be good at.”
My mom filled out an application and received a phone interview two days later.
“The CASA coordinators called me back the following day and asked if I wanted to start training,” she said. “It was 30 hours of training in a week. It all happened pretty fast, but it was perfect. The CASA program involves helping children that can’t help themselves, giving children voices that don’t have a voice. That’s exactly what I want to do, and it has all seemed to just fall right into place.”
She has already received her first case and will begin the yearlong process of changing someone’s life. And to think, it all started with a single story in a magazine.
Cassie Jenkins is a news reporter with The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.