For CASA board member Fran Pilch, commitment to serving abused and neglected children began in a concert hall during her graduate studies in New Haven.
“One afternoon, I was working as an usher for a concert my university was hosting,” Fran said. “I was running late, and it was pouring rain. As I hurried towards the venue, I saw a little girl sitting alone on the side of the road, dressed in tattered clothes, soaked to bone.”
Fran could have kept on her way that rainy day, but something inside her compelled her to take the young girl under her wing.
“I decided to bring her with me. I found her a blanket, a hot drink, and seated her in one of the front rows of the concert hall. I got all sorts of looks from the concert-goers, but to me it was a no-brainer that this girl needed help. That was a defining moment in my life.”
Over the next few weeks, Fran visited the girl at her home, where her mother was not around much and the conditions were not always healthy. They formed a companionship, until one day the environment she was surrounded by led her to enter the system, and Fran never saw her again.
“I often wonder what became of my young friend, and her story stayed with me all throughout my career. I am a survivor of domestic abuse myself, and have dedicated my life to telling the stories of those who face often unspeakable adversity to highlight their resiliency in the face of distress.”
Fran went on to have a successful academic career teaching international relations at the United States Air Force Academy, focusing on genocide and reconciliation. In her retirement, Fran has become a prolific author, publishing books on domestic abuse, genocide, and stories of resilience. She has also found time to be a deeply involved community member, joining leadership groups and boards around town, a practice that led her to CASA.
“The work that CASA does is so important in our community given the high levels of child neglect and abuse in El Paso County. I’m proud to be involved with an organization that is dedicated to walking alongside children that face such unimaginable hardship.”
Fran, your grit and determination in telling your story of survival, and that of others, is an inspiration. Thank you for all you do for our children!