Joseph Harrison knows what it means to serve.
After 20 years in the U.S. Army, he retired from active duty in 2004 but continued to serve as a civilian through his work with Fort Carson’s Department of Behavioral Health. The Licensed Practical Nurse at Evans Army Medical Hospital also recently completed a Master’s in Professional Counseling.
CASA’s Supervised Exchange & Parenting Time (SEPT) program seems to be a perfect fit for the man who routinely seeks out opportunities to help others.
“I came from a single parent home and I came to SEPT because I wanted to see what I could learn and how I could be of help,” Joseph says about why he initially began volunteering in 2021.
As a SEPT Facilitator, Joseph monitors child-parent visits in CASA’s Family Center and documents his observations for the court.
When there is a court order in place for visits to be supervised, it’s volunteers like Joseph who make it possible. Without him, some kids in our community would not have a safe environment for developing or maintaining healthy relationships with non-custodial parents.
“As a SEPT volunteer, I’m helping the child be more comfortable around the parent, and I’m helping the parent by observing the visit so that it brings out the best in them. Just being there can make the kids feel safer. They come in ready to hug, ready to love, and ready to be loved by their parents,” he said.
Joseph works two four-hour shifts per month in CASA’s Family Center where his job is to observe. Only occasionally does he intervene or redirect a conversation.
“What sticks in my mind is the father that was crying when the visit was over, not because his son was leaving but because of how proud he is of how well his son is doing,” Joseph recalled about a family he facilitated for this summer. “I told the father, ‘The fact that you’re here encouraging him means you are helping him. You’re here with him. You’re talking to him’.”
Joseph went on to describe a mother who has developed patience with her pre-teen son and a father who learned to help his kids manage their emotions while playing games. He enjoys seeing the progress families make and the creative ideas parents come up with to fill their hour-long visits.
Joseph and his wife have been married for over 40 years, and the couple has two children and three grandchildren. When he’s not managing his busy household, working as an LPN with soldiers, or volunteering for SEPT, you might find Joseph trying out his new tricycle or participating in the men’s group at his church.
In the Army, Joseph was stationed as far away as Germany and Belgium. Nowadays, CASA is very grateful to have him serving a little closer to home.
To learn more about how YOU can follow in Joseph’s footsteps as a SEPT volunteer, click here.