As all of you know CASA of El Paso is near and dear to my heart. Many years ago, when I had no clue as to a career choice, I spent time helping my mother in her pre-first elementary classroom. I was a young college student and spent Friday afternoons observing and helping my mom teach a class full of pre-first graders. It was there that I met Sarah. Sarah was energetic, spunky, and fun. Sarah needed extra help with school as she had a speech impediment and a rough home life. Sarah and I quickly became friends and spent time at McDonalds eating happy meals together. On one happy meal outing, I noticed that Sarah saved each French fry and neatly folded her paper packaging of the fries to take home. She only ate half of her hamburger and would take the fries and the hamburger home with her. When I asked Sarah why she did this, she told me that she was saving them for her brother Anthony. Sarah and Anthony were abused and were living apart from each other. Sarah was in a foster home with thirteen other children and Anthony was still living at home. Sarah was afraid that Anthony was not being fed. Sarah was removed from her parents because of abuse and neglect and she had to scrounge for food. Spending time with Sarah opened my then young eyes and made me realize at the age of twenty that children were indeed abused and neglected and needed someone by their side. I have never forgotten Sarah and she remains to this day my inspiration for raising money for CASA of El Paso.
In my adult life I have since realized that severe abuse was also present in my extended family. I have two cousins who spent every other weekend at my grandmother’s house. Their parents were divorced, and my uncle led a busy life in NH. Every other weekend, my mom and I visited my cousins at my grandmother’s house which was an hour away from where I lived. Every Sunday night, my Uncle would ask me to ride with him as he dropped them off at their mom’s house. They never wanted to get out of the car when we arrived at their mom’s house. They cried and cried. At the tender age of six, I just thought that they loved being with their dad and did not want to say goodbye. I could understand that they did not want to leave the loving arms of their dad who spoiled each of us with pancakes at IHOP and lots of toys from the Child’s World store. What I did not know then was that they endured horrific abuse from their stepdad. A few years ago, I flew home for a family funeral and spent a lot of time reconnecting with all my cousins. My cousin pulled me aside and told me how proud she was of me for working at CASA. She told me of the abuse that her and her sister went through, and she told me that they did not have a CASA volunteer advocating for their best interest in court. If they had had a CASA speaking on their behalf to a judge, their chances of living with their father or other safe, loving family members would have increased. They would have been placed in a safe, loving home instead of being tortured by a horrific monster of a stepfather. Instead, they were stuck in an abusive environment until they gathered the courage to run away to my grandmother’s house in their teen years. Both of my cousins are survivors of abuse and by their own strength and courage have led healthy and successful lives.
I am proud to work for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). El Paso is lucky to have a CASA program that provides volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children. We serve over six hundred children annually and depend on supporters like you to help us provide a CASA Guardian ad Litem to every child who needs one. A donation to CASA of El Paso is an investment in the future of El Paso’s children and families. Gifts to CASA are a meaningful way to make a difference to children and families in foster care. Thank you in advance for donating to CASA!
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