Staff Sergeant Donovan Rose made an ordinary trip to the grocery store to buy a cake for a friend. But that small errand turned out to be an extraordinary moment in the life of one local teen. The birthday cake was for a 17-year-old who had never had one before. “How can someone be 17 and never have a birthday cake?” Rose asked. Unfortunately, for many abused and neglected kids, ordinary childhood moments aren’t the only thing in their life that go unnoticed. Too often, the big things get overlooked too and that is where volunteer advocates make a big difference.
Rose joined CASA in 2014 after a friend who works with the CASA program in Georgia inspired him to take action. “Helping kids is always something I’ve liked to do so I called the CASA office and signed up,” says Rose.
After extensive training, Rose was ready to advocate on behalf of local abused and neglected children. He was assigned to Nate’s case and immediately got to work. Nate lives in a group home for foster teens and has been in the child welfare system since age two. “He has been back and forth in different homes for so many years. I got involved after he ran away and was found in a park,” says Rose. “I saw that he was taking 15 to 20 different medications but he hadn’t had a medication evaluation for a long time. Now he is down to 3 or 4 medications and is getting the right therapy and spending more time with his family. This has really opened the door to him being able to see that he can do better and achieve.”
Rose said he enjoys his work as a CASA advocate and knows he is making a real difference. “I enjoy spending time with Nate. We go for a run or go to the gym. He has a caseworker that stops by and asks him lots of questions and attends his official meetings. I attend those meetings too but I connect with him on a personal level so he is at ease and can tell me what is really going on for him,” Rose says. “I brought him a t-shirt from one of my trips and he was wearing that shirt every time I saw him. Finally, I had to tell him to take a shower and wash that shirt!” Rose says with a laugh.
Being a CASA volunteer also has a hard side, admits Rose. “When I pick Nate up for a visit, there are lots of other teens at the group home without a CASA and they are just stuck there with nothing to do. It is so hard to leave them behind,” said Rose.
Rose believes military personnel are a great fit to be CASA advocates. He says Nate is in a good place right now because his current home gives him structure and accountability. “For the first time he is seeing that he can’t just do what he wants,” said Rose. Nate is hoping to be in the military one day and that goal encourages Nate to do well in school.
Staff Sergeant Rose is currently stationed at Fort Carson as a battalion victim advocate with SHARP, Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention and as a Family Readiness Liaison. In his role as a victim advocate, Rose connects victims of assault with available services and offers support as they pursue their next steps, such as reporting incidents or testifying.
Rose said it is challenging to find the time to volunteer with CASA but worth the effort. “It’s a commitment and a sacrifice that must come from the heart to find the time,” he says. “Our schedules are all over the place but just stopping by to chat and have lunch makes all the difference. It’s so important [for these kids] to have that one constant person thinking of them.”
Rose says he stays motivated because “these kids are our tomorrow. I’m so grateful to be able to make a difference for them.”
More men are needed! Our next volunteer training class begins in October – Learn more here.