Tag Archive for: volunteering

CASA of NH volunteer with teen

Combining Full-Time Work with Vital Volunteering for NH’s Children

Man speaking with teen

For the past 12 years, Mike LaRoche has been changing the lives of New Hampshire’s abused and neglected children while working full-time as a busy sales representative. Mike is one of more than 600 Court Appointed Special Advocates across the state who volunteer to speak up for the best interests of victimized children in New Hampshire’s court system.

“My work as a CASA volunteer has become such a significant part of my life that it is like the third leg of a stool – it keeps me balanced,” Mike says. According to Mike, volunteering as a CASA advocate has created some very busy days, but has actually reduced the stress he feels in his work or personal life. “When you see a child who is abused or neglected, your own problems just don’t seem so bad. You realize how incredibly blessed you are,” he comments.

Like Mike, 39% of CASA of NH’s volunteer advocates also hold a full-time job, while another 33% work part-time. After comprehensive training, a volunteer typically devotes 10-15 hours per month on his or her case(s). This work includes getting to know the child or children on the case; speaking regularly with important people in the child’s life; and writing court reports, attending court hearings, and speaking to a judge about the child’s progress. During the COVID-19 pandemic, everything from training to court appearances is taking place virtually.

CASA volunteers who work full-time say the most important thing is to have some flexibility in your schedule. As long as you have the freedom to shape your workday, even if only a handful of times per year to be able to attend court hearings, it is possible to combine full-time work with a rewarding experience as a CASA volunteer advocate.

“One of the beauties of CASA, and what makes it a manageable volunteer opportunity, is that the volunteer has complete control over what kind of case to take, how many cases to take, and the location of the court to serve,” explains Erin Hiley Sharp, an associate professor at the University of New Hampshire and a six- year volunteer with CASA.

To learn more about changing a child’s story as a CASA volunteer while working, consider attending a live virtual information session where you will hear from CASA staff and volunteers about this vital role and have the opportunity to get your questions answered.

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Retirees Provide a Vital Voice for NH’s Abused and Neglected Children

After Seacoast New Hampshire resident Dean Plager retired, he enjoyed spending more time sailing, but he also felt a need to give back to society. He read an article about a local woman who was advocating for abused and neglected children as a volunteer with CASA of NH. “It hit home for me because I had been looking for something to do that really makes a difference. This was it,” Dean says.

Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Hampshire – or CASA of NH – recruits, trains and supervises volunteers to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children in the New Hampshire court system.  Volunteers spend time getting to know a victimized child and the important adults in that child’s life so they may make qualified, unbiased recommendations to a judge deciding a child’s future.  Since CASA of NH was founded in 1989, its volunteers have helped more than 10,000 children grow up in safe, permanent homes.

More than 55 percent of CASA of NH’s 600 volunteers last year were over 60 and almost 50 percent were retired or working part-time.  According to Marcia Sink, founder and President/CEO of CASA, women and men of retirement age play a key role in the organization’s goal to provide a CASA volunteer advocate to every abused or neglected child who needs one.

“We are expecting a surge in cases of abuse and neglect after the COVID pandemic passes and we need more volunteers now. Retired folks or people with flexible schedules are in a position to step up quickly, plus we find that our older volunteers have tremendous abilities that they still want to use during retirement. It is a good combination,” she says.

CASA volunteer advocate Darcy Horgan calls her work for CASA a “win/win,” commenting that “it engages my work ethic but has real meaning. At this stage of life, what a bonus it is to do valuable work that is fulfilling!”

Monadnock-area resident Patience Stoddard was a little bored in her second year of retirement. She attended a 40-hour training session to become a CASA volunteer advocate and found the training “exceptional.” She also discovered kindred spirits in her fellow classmates. “It makes you realize that there are a lot of good people out there. It keeps your faith in humanity,” she says.

As with other aspects of life, the COVID pandemic has altered CASA volunteer work. Training has moved online and advocates meet with children in safely distanced visits or, if the child is old enough, through virtual means. Some courts convene through telephone and web conferences while others offer socially distanced in-person meetings.

Steve and Betsy Coes were deep into training to become CASA volunteer advocates when the COVID pandemic hit. They completed their training online and received their first cases in Spring 2020. Steve says that he has been able to check on his one-year-old CASA child and do the work despite COVID. “Every time a new wrinkle arises, it is an education. Most of all, my CASA work is an education about what the world is like out there. You see how people get in situations and you start to understand motivations,” he says.

Want to learn more?  Read our FAQs about volunteering or join us for a live, virtual information session:

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