You'll forever be my casa
I began working as an Advocacy Coordinator for Savannah CASA in August 2020. As a newbie, I received current cases from my colleagues that would help me learn about many aspects of my new role. One of those cases was a 17-year-old young lady on the cusp of aging out of foster care named Jasmine*.
To learn more about the case, I met with Jasmine’s Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Saundra Poole, a deeply dedicated volunteer of nearly 4 years. Saundra provided me with important case-related information documenting Jasmine’s time in foster care which began when she was fourteen years old. I listened in awe as Saundra discussed this young lady’s journey with such passion and detail. It was as if she’d known her all of her life - her likes, dislikes, areas of emotional vulnerability, and her hopes for the future. During our conversation, I saw firsthand Saundra’s dedication and professionalism. As a past Savannah CASA intern and in my work as a Mental Health Counselor for 5 years, I had a basic understanding of the role of a CASA, but never before did I fully understand the extraordinary support that a CASA can provide in the life of a vulnerable child. At 17 years old, Jasmine was at an important junction to begin the transition into the adult world and Saundra was there at hand helping to guide her along this uncertain path. That day, I came to understand the true impact of a CASA volunteer.
More Instability - Except for CASA. Over the course of the next four months, Jasmine moved between the homes of four family members. My heart ached because Jasmine was once again experiencing an unstable living situation. But there remained one very bright light in Jasmine’s life - the durability and consistency of her relationship with her committed CASA volunteer, Saundra.
Despite Jasmine’s case being closed in the court system, her relationship with Saundra continues today. Jasmine turns to Saundra whenever she is in distress. She reaches out whenever she needs advice on how to maneuver life’s challenges. Over the course of three years, Jasmine and Saundra built a strong and caring relationship. Saundra stood out in Jasmine’s life as a reliable voice of support. For Jasmine, Saundra was no longer her foster care advocate, she is her beloved Godmother.
*name changed due to confidentiality
About the author - Ja'Nae Brown