Monday, Feb 27, 2017
Kiele: Serving as a CASA for one of our kids can be amazing, fulfilling, but also at times heartbreaking. Sometimes it can be hard to deal with an imperfect system. But these kids need someone who is in it for the long-haul, in spite of changing placements, schools, caseworkers, or attorney's. When I think about dedicated advocates, I think of Kiele Sant, one of the best CASAs I have worked with and who has made a huge difference in the life of a 16 year old. Kiele took the case on midway through 2013 when the child was abandoned at age 11. Now, almost four a half years later, she is still so dedicated to this wonderful child. This child has been through so much and through so many changes. Kiele has been the only constant in the child's life. I'm amazed at her dedication. She consistently visits and stays in touch with the child she represents, does an amazing job of keeping me informed of how things are going as well as questions and concerns that the child has. She has used one of her talents to really bond with the child. But what impresses me the most about Kiele, is how much she really cares for this child. It is apparent in the emails she sends me every month, in the consistent contact she has with the child, and because the child is comfortable enough to say things to Kiele that she doesn't talk to anyone else about. I went on a home visit several months back to visit the child and one thing I noted was how important the relationship myclient had with her CASA was, how that relationship was a point of stability in a child's life who has been through so much change and disappointment. I appreciate all the Kiele does for this wonderful kid and how much good comes from dedicated CASAs like Kiele, who take the time to develop a meaningful relationship with their clients by being consistent, taking time, and learning about what interest the client and meeting them on their turf. Thanks Kiele! Michael Forsberg, Guardian ad Litem attorney.
Sean: I was born in San Francisco, California in1973. I grew up in a very unstable, "rocky" home. I eventually was placed in foster care and spent time in 4 foster homes. In 1987, I moved to Austin, Texas and attended high school there. With hard work and perseverance, I graduated in 1991 as Valedictorian and was selected to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy that same year. In 1995, I graduated from the Academy with a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature and received my wings in 1997. I have been stationed at 6 locations, including Canada, and acquired over 4,000 accident-free flight hours.
I participated in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program from 2006-2012. I knew about CASA and joined when I moved to Utah in 2014 as another way to mentor and provide guidance to young people. I also felt a calling to the CASA program since I was a foster boy myself. I have found it to be quite challenging, but even more rewarding ... especially when I see a youth make positive strides. A wise person once said "it take a village to raise a child." I proudly stand as a villager who strives to mold our future leaders to overcome obstacles and to succeed in life.
Charlotte: I was raised in Salt Lake City. Our two youngest kids were adopted from Nevada’s foster care system. Desiring to add to our family and researching our options, we felt that finding a child in foster care was the option for us. These two children came to us as a package deal and have blessed and taught us more than any other experience we have had. When we lived in Nevada, I was approached about becoming a CASA but I declined. I was feeling overwhelmed with the demands of caring for two toddlers with significant challenges and felt that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill the responsibilities of a CASA. However, I knew it was something I eventually wanted to pursue. We moved our family to St. George in 2005 and that goal was almost forgotten. In 2014 I met a CASA program coordinator. I decided that the time was right for me to become a CASA. I have been a CASA for a year and a half and I have loved the experiences I’ve had. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have my life enriched as I make a difference in the life of a child. My Favorite Quote is from “Winnie the Pooh” (the last phrase was added by an unknown author). “Promise me you’ll always remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and loved more than you know.”
Sandy: I heard about CASA from someone at work when I was looking for an opportunity to give back to the community. When I told my sister what I was doing, she joined me in the training in February of 2013. It’s been an awesome experience to share with my sister especially considering our very busy schedules with family, work, etc. We were sworn in March of 2013. On the day we were sworn in, my sister found out she had breast cancer. She waited until after the ceremony to share her news and told me in front of the courthouse. It was a bittersweet moment—we were just starting two journeys. One as CASAs and another in her journey to beat cancer. Although this would give her every excuse to bow out of the CASA responsibilities, we took an assignment together shortly after her surgery. Our first assignment was a family of five siblings ranging in age from 10 to 17. That case closed after about six months and we took our next case in October. We were assigned two brothers (currently age 14 and 16) who live in different foster homes. It has been a long and difficult case during such critical times in their lives. We often wonder whether we are making an impact. But we have to believe that each interaction can be a positive influence in their lives and hope for a better future. Unfortunately we don’t live in that perfect world and not all children grow up in a loving, safe environment. That is where the CASA program can make the difference. That is why I chose to join the CASA program. As CASAs we may not be able to change the world, but perhaps we can change a life.
Just wanted you to know if you ever get bogged down in the job as CASA super hero this will make you know you are just that...a super hero. My CASA client asked me today what CASA meant. I told her Court Appointed Special Advocate and she shook her head and said that isn't what it means. I said, "What do you think it means?" She said, "CASA means Court Appointed Super Awesomeness". It made my heart melt and wanted you to know that you are the super awesomeness to make it all happen.