As an organization dedicated to supporting children and families in crisis, we recognize that holidays can be a delicate and nuanced time for many. In this series, Purposeful Perspectives, we asked our staff members to select a season, month, or day that is meaningful to them to share with our CASA community. Thank you for joining us as we take a deeper look behind the celebrations that fill our lives.

Grace, Humility, and Dedication

By Heidi Grimmett

When I was in college with an interest in working in Human Services of some kind, the only jobs I knew about were with the Division of Family and Children Services and I assumed that’s where I would go. Then, I was introduced to CASA by the director of a summer camp I volunteered at. This camp was specific to burn victim children – some by accident and some by abuse. She talked about how CASA volunteers got their kiddos involved and advocated for scholarships to participate and gain a sense of normalcy in this inclusive and adapted camp experience. She raved about their impact and suggested I check them out for the internship I needed my senior year.

With continued oblivion of what in the world a CASA volunteer was or actually does, I reached out to the local program and tried to get my foot in the door. In the interview, it was clear I still didn’t grasp the role and assumed I would be working first-hand on the ground with children. (12+ years later, I have so much gratitude for the director willing to give a clueless girl with a heart to serve a chance in this work.) I began my internship and discovered how beautifully unique the CASA volunteer role is and just how many other agencies and people wrapped their arms around families who are experiencing the Child Welfare system. I fell in love with the individual focus and creativity CASA volunteers provided to this red-tape world and knew this is just where I was supposed to be.

I was in awe of the volunteer service offered with such grace, humility, and dedication to children from hard places and families in a crisis. While the mission of CASA programs is to serve children experiencing foster care, the mechanism through which we do that is volunteer relationships, support, and coaching. My job was not to hang out with kids, but to empower volunteers to make a difference.

One example that resonates with me still is a case in which the CASA volunteer brought hope to a family that was in crisis. Tracy was a newly sworn-in CASA volunteer and was serving on her very first case – a teen whose mom suffered from the disease of addiction. The mother had years of DFCS involvement under her belt, there was an air of hopelessness and defeat in the case, that the system had failed to make a difference for this family and that it was simply too late. But the CASA volunteer came in with fresh eyes and a resource lens perspective; she was ready to see the strengths and advocate for the right services for both mom and daughter. Tracy’s encouragement and meaningful engagement alongside the mother’s hard work and successful completion of treatment led to an incredible happy ending of reunification.

I remain in awe of Tracy and the thousands of volunteers across the state with their unwavering willingness to show up again and again with a belief that people can change, that families deserve every chance, and that it’s never too late.

National Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 21-27, 2024, and Georgia CASA would like to shout our appreciation for the thousands of volunteers across our network making an impact never giving up on families. CASA volunteers bring passion and hope to our work every day. They touch the lives of thousands of children and families each year and, 12 years later, I am still in awe of what they do.

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