Let me preface the following blog with:
I do not live in Billings. Many times I purposely schedule multiple visits, errands, meetings, etc. in one day.
I do not have a set schedule. My husband and I are small corporation owners, so I am in charge of my work day. Some days are more flexible than others. There are always many options for scheduling my CASA duties.
Court Appointed Special Advocates come from many facets of life. You can alter your CASA obligations to fit your routine. This certain day is by no means typical. It is just how my schedule and events played out.
My goal is to encourage more individuals to search their hearts and schedules. The CASA life may be for you. At the end of the day, you will not regret it.
I woke on this certain day to Thomas Rhett’s “Remember You Young.” My first thought, “Ugh! I wish I were younger. Lord, give me strength.” Immediately my thoughts went to the multiple items on my agenda for the day. My first appointment was a doctor’s visit with one of my CASA kiddos. I meet the child and caretaker at the doctor’s office. This has become a monthly routine for me. I have come to realize that the doctor relies heavily on my input and communication with the child’s teacher. At this visit the doctor point blank looked at me and said, “I need your thoughts.” The responsibility is daunting at times. We came to the conclusion at this visit not to alter his meds.
From the doctor’s office I made a bee-line down to the child protective services (CPS) office downtown. A couple of times a year I drop off a little something for the social workers on my cases. It is never much; just a tiny token to let them know I appreciate their efforts at a thankless job. We may not always see eye-to-eye, but I have found that a little kindness and consideration goes a long way.
In between my stop at the CPS office and my next engagement at a Christmas luncheon, I manned my phone. I emailed a social worker and a county attorney. I called a birth mother. I attempted to contact a birth father. I made a couple of personal errands on my way across town.
I knew my lunch gathering would have to be brief. I was not going to miss a kiddo’s school Christmas program. It began at 1:15. Strategically I slid into the auditorium just as the “crumb crunchers” were filing onto the stage. I made eye contact quickly with the teacher. My kiddo could not pick me out of the crowd. He was searching for someone…anyone…that he knew. The program began. Six Christmas songs all sung with gusto. At the end of the last song, the choir director announced, “Go find your people and then quickly meet back on stage before going to your classrooms.” At that moment, my heart sank! I could see my kiddo looking frantically for his people. He had none. His teacher, who is very in tune to the child’s needs and situation, quickly stepped up beside him, whispered in his ear, and pointed in my direction. Instantly, he saw me. His eyes gleamed. He was headed quickly in my direction. I was his person. I was all he had at the moment. Fighting back my tears, I squeezed through the crowd to reach my person. The struggling little human never has much to say, but he listens very intently. I greeted him with a high five, “I am proud of you! You did so well!” I am glad I made time in my busy holiday schedule for him. He would have had no one.
I had time for a few more personal errands before a meeting at the CASA office. In the meantime, I checked my email — a question from an Advocate that I support as a volunteer Peer Coordinator. It was an excellent question with a slight legal twist. I needed to double check myself to make sure my answer was accurate. I quickly texted my staff Program Coordinator at the CASA office to see if she had time for a phone call. Of course she did. I was able to gather her thoughts and expertise along with mine and promptly email my Advocate back.
At 5:30 we had our quarterly Peer Coordinator Summit at the CASA office. Usually the Peer Coordinators all gather and Maria, the Program Director, has an agenda that we tackle. We talk numbers — of kids in need of a CASA, of kids who have a CASA, of CASA trainees, etc. We cover topics of concern or change. We may have a special speaker. It is always refreshing to meet together as a group who share the same burden. This Summit was different; no business or agenda. It was a Christmas party set aside as a time to appreciate each Peer Coordinator. There was a festive table covered with snacks and gifts. Each Peer Coordinator was given a very personal, individualized gift. I truly felt appreciated. There was casual conversation — some personal, some business. The room was chatty and warm with camaraderie. After about 45 minutes, each of us, from so many different walks of life, were eager to head home and call it a day.
When my head finally hit the pillow that night, I took a deep breath and realized that I am making a difference.
And you can too.
But wait, there is more. My phone rang at 11:25 pm. I squinted to see the number of a birth father. I returned that call at a more convenient time.
Corinna Byler was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in 2015 and is currently a volunteer Peer Coordinator.