Joe Maio was an Army Infantry man for 30 years, an achievement followed by ten years at a computer science company and ten more years as the Volunteer Manager at Pikes Peak Hospice.
His wife Sheila was an educator who specialized in working with gifted children, as well as children with learning disabilities. She was also a small business owner.
Now, in retirement, they are blessed with healthy children and grandchildren and so they’re doing something to help other families who aren’t as fortunate. They’re working together to end the cycle of child abuse here in Colorado Springs.
Joe and Sheila are Court Appointed Special Advocates who speak up in the court system for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. As one of CASA’s husband-wife teams, the couple combines their individual talents to have an impact on each child or sibling group assigned to them by a judge.
They’ve been advocating for kids for six years. Why is this work important to them? Because these children’s lives aren’t determined yet and they know they can do something about it.
“These kids are the future,” said Joe.
Joe and Sheila know that the impact they have in the court system can set the children on the right course to become happy, healthy, and contributing members of their community.
As advocates, Joe and Sheila get to know the children involved with the cases assigned to them. And they also get to know foster parents, biological parents, therapists, medical professionals, and everyone else in a child’s life. They bring information back to the court to help the judge make the best decision for the child’s future.
The reason working as a team is so advantageous, says Sheila is “the ability to share and compare thoughts and perspectives, provide emotional support to one another, and because we can talk about the case without violating confidentiality.”
One such case that they worked on together was with a nine-year-old boy who had been placed in foster care with two younger half siblings. Joe and Sheila found out through their work that the mother had lied about the identity of the father in order to prevent that man from having custody.
“The alleged father was contacted from out of state and requested to come to Colorado for a DNA test,” the couple explained. “The father took off work and came by bus to take a DNA test and said if he was the father he wanted the young man in his family.”
A positive DNA test later, and out of state checks were made to verify his suitability as a father. When the father visited again to take his son home, the interstate paperwork wasn’t complete but the judge determined it shouldn’t prevent the unification.
“That brave little boy left the court room with a forever dad,” the couple said.
Finding your biological father who you had never known, and then having an opportunity to grow up in a safe and loving home is a big deal. And for this little boy, it’s an outcome that wouldn’t have happened without the time and effort of Joe and Sheila Maio.
Joe and Sheila are shining examples of living life to the fullest. Not only do they help save children in their own community, but they still find time for hiking, snow shoeing, swimming, traveling, enjoying music, and spending time with their grandchildren. In addition to CASA, they also volunteer for Hospice.
CASA needs more people like Joe and Sheila. It’s scary to be a young child removed from your home with a future that’s uncertain. We need more people to stand up for these kids and give them a voice. Join Joe and Sheila by contacting CASA at 719-447-9898. There’s a volunteer class starting in May, and you can do this too.