When Opportunity Knocks...
This summer, I had the opportunity to take part in the Shepherd Internship program, which is designed to pair college students with non-profit organizations to educate them as to the complexities of poverty. In my initial interviews to determine my placement, I expressed that I wanted to be doing something with children, as I have always felt most fulfilled when I am helping to better their lives. When I learned that I was matched with CASA, I was elated. With just a minimal understanding of what a CASA was, I knew that my summer was going to be special.
Through friends and colleagues, I learned that CASA staff are leaders in their community with an intrinsic motivation to aid and support children living in foster care. I found this mission honorable and inspiring and felt privileged to have this chance. Even from miles away on our Zoom calls, I was inspired by those at Savannah, CASA. Their passion for, and commitment to, children radiated through the computer screen. They speak with concern and act with care.
Advocacy Outside of the Courtroom
From my very first day, CASA staff demonstrated that advocating for a child is multi-faceted. While advocacy is central to the work, advocating for children is not just speaking on their behalf in a courtroom - there are so many more ways to support a child in foster care. For example, the mega fundraiser, “Dancing with Savannah Stars” which assured that there are resources to do the work. Likewise, agency-wide discussions and pandemic-era Zoom “coffee hours” fostered an environment where individuals were encouraged to learn from each other’s personal and professional perspectives. In addition, CASA has an extremely vibrant social media presence which connects the wider community to inspire others to include them in CASA’s mission.
An Unforgettable Experience
There are many direct and indirect service components to non-profit work and, each day, colleagues at Savannah CASA join together to achieve support and stability for the children. As a young professional, I am thankful for my summer’s opportunity to learn from these inspiring - (and inspired!) – colleagues. I will continue to use their lessons in my own life’s work. I will never forget this experience as my heart is forever touched by these summer colleagues who devote talent and time to the success of children in foster care.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Alaina Ratanapool