By Joy Nolan
The running joke among everyone who works with Dick in his capacity as a CASA is, “Where in the world is Dick Fleming?”
Whether on the golf course, in his boat on Lake Winnipesaukee, traveling to babysit his grandchildren in Colorado, or wintering in Florida, Dick is always available for his CASA kid.
He informed everyone prior to entering the court room for their last hearing in July that he will be taking his wife to Italy for her birthday this fall. But no matter where he is, it is rare that any call from CASA, DCYF, Dover Children’s Home, or anyone else connected to the 15-year-old girl he represents, goes to voice mail. Instead, he pulls himself away from whatever he’s doing, wherever he is doing it, to take a call.
“Because she matters,” Dick says.
A CASA Guardian ad Litem since May of 2011, Dick successfully closed his first case involving two little boys in adoption in 2014. He has represented the teenaged girl for a combined 22 months in two different cases.
“When the case came back into the system my first choice as a CASA for this youth was Dick. He had already established a relationship with her. She referred to him as ‘the dude who visits me,’” says Joy Nolan, Dick’s program manager in the Plymouth regional office. “It’s so important that the child CASA represents stays with that child until the case closes successfully. In the course of a case, DCYF workers change, foster homes, schools and friends change. But the CASA is the one constant in a child’s life during a very turbulent time.”
Dick retired in 2007 after 50 years in financial planning and money management. He and Sally, his wife of 47 years, moved from West Connecticut to Alton Bay on the Big Lake. They are the proud parents of three grown daughters and six grandchildren.
“I heard about CASA from a friend who was a CASA in Bridgeport, Conn. I thought to myself, ‘I should really give this a try,’ Dick says. “I wanted to give back to others in a meaningful way. I served on many boards over the years in finance, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to help kids.”
When asked what impresses him the most about being a CASA, Dick responded, “I learned how truly concerned the judges are about the kids on these cases and how they listen to CASA. The court knows that CASAs aren’t paid, and that we know the kids and want what’s best for them.”
Which is why, no matter where in the world Dick is, he answers the call.