September 28, 2012
One Decade. One Volunteer. One Amazing Impact.
Ten years ago, Tyra Hunt was sworn-in as a CASA volunteer with SCAN’s Alexandria/Arlington CASA Program. Today she stops by the blog to reflect on the challenges of being a CASA, her favorite memories and why she remains committed to advocating for abused and neglected children in our local court systems (and thinks you should consider it, too!)
I was sworn-in as a CASA volunteer in 2002, but I first learned about the program while attending James Madison University. My undergrad work was in Special Education, and then graduate work focused on School Psychology, so I already knew I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.
When I was working for Arlington County Parks and Recreation Department, I constantly saw children and teenagers in need of a voice. Through internships at homeless shelters, I met families living in one-bedroom apartments, struggling with unemployment and poverty. I saw the impact it had on the kids. And I knew I had a mission.
I had been wondering how I could directly support the children and teenagers already in the “system,” and someone said to me, “If you don’t want to become an attorney you could be a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).”
And here I am ten years later!
I’ll be honest–sometimes being a CASA volunteer can be very challenging. It’s difficult to watch children bear the brunt of the pain caused when their parents are making negative choices in their own lives.
But there are celebrations, too. One of my CASA kids who has aged out of care since I advocated for her is now employed and living a positive life. Despite the odds of having a mother struggle with addiction and siblings move across the country, she has grown up to be a beautiful and mature young woman. What an inspiration to keep advocating for other children like her!
When someone asks me to describe the CASA Program, I’m always sure to mention that it warms my heart to know that this program exists around the country. There are so many children in need. I’m a CASA volunteer here in Alexandria and Arlington, but there are 77,000 others just like me working for children in communities across the country!
I’ve remained a CASA volunteer for 10 years because I LOVE it. And it always pleases me when parents say, “Tyra, you drove all this way and you don’t get paid to do this!?”
Here’s to 10 MORE years making a difference for children. It’s a mission I’m proud to keep working on.
Thank you Tyra, for 10 years of dedication and more than 18 children’s lives changed forever! (Not to mention the many SCAN golf tournaments you’ve been a part of, too!)
Please leave YOUR congratulations and thanks to Tyra in the comment field below…