Through my involvement with CASA, I expected to connect with CASA volunteers in lots of ways. I expected that we'd share similar values about the importance of child well-being. I expected that we'd learn more about our communities together. I even anticipated that we'd share the same heartaches or frustrations as part of navigating a system that can be challenging and complex. However, as a new New Mexican transplanted from New Jersey and New York, I didn't expect to have a hometown in common. In Raton, the tiniest town I've ever lived in, I was in for a surprise!
Rose (L) at the Colfax District Court at the swearing-in of new CASA volunteers (some not pictured)
One of my responsibilities working with volunteers is to interview people who are interested in CASA and learn more about their backgrounds and motivations. When working with vulnerable children (those who are in foster care due to abuse or neglect) it's so important to make sure the adults who want to help are caring, committed, and understand the responsibility. It's critical that YHL be able to have honest and open dialogues with all our volunteers. So with our newest volunteer, I went through the usual questions, asking about her perspectives on children and community, YHL and the child welfare system, and the impact a CASA has on the life of each child they advocate for.
What really surprised me though is when I asked about her childhood, which as it turned out, had been spent in Brooklyn, New York! I spent my most enjoyable NY years in Brooklyn as well, and we immediately started comparing notes about what neighborhoods we'd lived in and what had changed or stayed the same. It's always an interesting story to hear how someone came to live someplace new, and we swapped stories of our journeys west to end up at this table, in this town, with this generous and important driving interest, uniting us in yet another way. Despite time, distance, and a million of life's surprises, our paths had crossed in a way that now allowed us both to learn so much from the other, and to start a new chapter of partnering to advocate for children in our current home who needed it most. Sometimes it really is a small world!