An Unexpected gift for a casa intern
I began my internship with Savannah CASA the first week of January. At the time, I was completely and utterly unsure of the field I was entering as an intern. I did not have much knowledge of what CASA did for the community, nor of the myriad of situations that a foster child may experience. I did, though, have a lot of compassion to those in need. I initially thought that my experiences, volunteer hours, and educational training would be sufficient to accomplish my goals at CASA. I was ready to dedicate myself to hard work and long hours of helping others cope with their personal situations. I believed that the men, women, and children involved in the different specialties of CASA would value me due to my life’s journey. I never expected I would need them too.
The Unfolding Lesson
During my second week of interning, I attended the Family Treatment Court (FTC). FTC is a parental skills and rehabilitation program for young parents whose children entered the foster care system due to their substance use disorder. When I observed FTC for the first time, I marveled at how each parent was open and vulnerable. I felt proud of them for their struggle to improve their lives. I cried “happy tears” to see how hard they worked to get their lives under control to be reunited with their children.
I know that personal biases have blocked my understanding of substance use due to growing up in a home where my mom was addicted to drugs. For years, I’ve known I was affected. Due to our tumultuous relationship, I know that my heart was often closed to expressing any form of vulnerability. Sitting in FTC and admiring the young parents’ efforts to correct their behavior, I wondered to myself why in the last fifteen years did I never try to understand my mother’s own struggles. As a CASA Intern, a wife, and as a mother myself, I love praising the FTC parents for their accomplishments, no matter how small of a step they achieve. My heart was warmed to see them smile. And I was struck with a realization - if I could encourage strangers to keep moving forward with their lives, why couldn’t I do the same for my own mother?
And This I Learned...
After a month at CASA, I reached out to my mom. I felt odd abandoning my hiding place of comfort and safety, but I wanted to tell my mom that she deserved to be forgiven and that I was very sorry it took me so long. My CASA experience helped me see a personal struggle that I had inside but didn’t realize was even there. Throughout my adult life, I was looking for something that would grant me satisfaction and joy, and most of all give me a sense of purpose. CASA helped me open up. The men, women, and children CASA serves deserve applause for their efforts and determination. Despite the difficult struggles with their destructive substance use, they strive to persevere, to not give up, and most importantly to decide that their lives can be meaningful again. CASA helps change lives. I have found that helping other people is one way to be truly happy. I love CASA because positive things happen all the time, even unexpectedly.
Learn more about how to talk about substance use disorder.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - TIFFANY STACY
Tiffany Stacy is an intern for Savannah/Chatham CASA, and is a Georgia native from Columbus. She is an Army spouse and is currently attending Troy University online pursing a BS in Social Work and is set to graduate this Spring. Tiffany plans to pursue an Advanced-Standing and Accelerated Master of Social Work at Louisiana State University this Fall. She and her husband, Nick, are parents of two rambunctious children, Talia and Mason, and have three fur-babies, Beau, Kermie, and Nana.