Happy New Year!
As a CASA board member and advocate, I hope the holiday season brought joy and peace your way.
Like many of you, I look forward to the start of a new year. It is a time of honest reflection. Each year I ask myself two questions: Am I a better person today than I was last year …and… what am I able to do this year to make a difference. For the past 5 years, I have been able to answer both questions with a strong “Yes” and it is all because I am a CASA volunteer.
Those who know me know that I am very vocal about CASA. I believe in the mission “to assure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for every abused and/or neglected child by providing a highly trained volunteer to advocate for them in the court system.” I also believe I have a moral obligation and responsibility to look out for the children who have few adults, if any, they can count on. The children CASA serve are victims of abuse and neglect by their parents, the exact people who are suppose to love and protect them but do not. They need you and me to get involved.
I have many people ask me how I am able to develop a bond with a child only to let go. It is not always easy, but it is worth every minute of it, especially when you see “your” child’s eyes light up when they see you or experience something for the first time. This is how I make a difference and become a better person and I’d like to challenge you to do the same. If being and advocate is not for you, there are other ways to make a difference.
We need advocates and we need financial support. Did you know we have over 700 children living in foster care in our community? Seven hundred children… removed from their parents, their home, their beds and their toys. I can tell you from my experience, many leave with only a change of clothes in a bag. It is sad and unconscionable.
This year Santa Barbara CASA staff and directors are committed to serving 367 children; increasing the numbers served until every child has an advocate – that one committed adult who will stay with them, regardless of how many times they change foster homes, until they are either reunited with their family, adopted, or living in a safe permanent home. In order to reach this goal we need to train 85 adults who want to make a difference. Please consider joining the CASA team either as an advocate, donor, or by attending one of our fundraisers.
Join me in 2014 – commit to a resolution to make a difference in our community – get involved!
Lisa Ramos Murray