There are children in our community that have never had a positive adult presence in their lives.
Nobody to make sure they’re safe and fed… no parent that reads them bedtime stories… no one who offers to help them with their homework.
These are the kids that Jenny Stilley fights for as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
“Volunteering with CASA has been life-changing,” she said. “These children need an adult they can trust who is persistently fighting for their best interests… It’s a privilege to serve these children.”
As a CASA, Jenny spends time getting to know children who are involved in the court system because of child abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. She not only spends time with the kids, but also gets to know their biological and foster parents, other caregivers, therapists or medical professionals, teachers, and anyone else that might be involved in the child’s life. Because she handles only one case at a time, she can really dive in to gather information and draw conclusions about the circumstances of that particular child’s life.
Jenny then takes the information to court and presents it not only to the team of professionals that includes DHS caseworkers and guardian ad litem attorneys, but also to the judge who will ultimately make decisions regarding the child’s future. CASAs like Jenny make sure that judges have the information they need to make decisions that give the children the best possible shot at a happy and healthy future.
Jenny is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Counseling. Not only that, but she and her husband of 23 years have four kids together, ages 14, 16, 19, and 21, and five rescue dogs. She has a full schedule, but that doesn’t stop her from serving her community.
“My daughter did a college project on CASA and encouraged me to become an advocate,” she said. “After attending the information meeting, I knew CASA was where I needed to be.”
That was three years ago, and now in addition to being an advocate, Jenny is a peer coordinator which means she mentors new advocates, showing them the ropes for their own cases.
“I had a moment when one of my CASA children shared with me that she finally had a home. She said that she wasn’t scared anymore. I knew I was making a difference at that moment.”
If you’d like to join Jenny in making a difference, consider attending our May 7 Volunteer Informational Hour. You can hear from CASA staff and volunteers, and have a chance to ask question. More information on this event is here.