If you grew up in a seemingly healthy and supportive family, it might not seem like that big of a deal that you played soccer or tee-ball, took piano lessons, or participated in gymnastics. But for kids involved in the child welfare system, normal childhood opportunities like these don’t come quite as easily.
This is true for kids like five-year-old Jacob who lives with a foster family here in Colorado Springs. With an incarcerated father and a mother who is struggling with her mental health, Jacob and his little sister Mia are two of the hundreds of local children who need CASA’s support.
Luckily for this sibling pair, volunteer advocate Mark Davis is on the case. Mark wasn’t about to let Jacob’s early childhood pass him by without living his dream of being on a tee-ball team.
“He wanted to play soccer but the biological mom had said no to sports,” Mark explained. “But I advocated again in this last court hearing because he mentioned to me that he now wanted to play tee-ball and so I mentioned that to the judge.”
Long story short, thanks to Mark’s advocacy, Jacob will be joining his foster brother on the tee-ball field this spring. Normalizing experiences like sports go a long way toward helping foster kids build confidence and resilience.
While Mark has plans to attend some tee-ball games and cheer his CASA kiddo on, he’s also busy providing resources for the foster family and building a relationship with the two children on his case. Part of his work as a CASA also includes Life Long Links, a family engagement service that allows Mark to reach out to the children’s extended families in attempt to build some new connections.
“They definitely needed an advocate,” Mark says. “Life Long Links wouldn’t have gotten involved and he wouldn’t be playing tee-ball. He hadn’t told anyone else besides me about wanting to play tee-ball.”
Mark’s work as a CASA has been important to him ever since he was sworn in last fall, a decision he came to after attending several Light of Hope fundraising events that really tugged on his heartstrings.
“After 26 years in the computer field, I stopped working in 2010,” he explained. “I had to go on disability because I’ve had MS for a number of years. The symptoms were keeping me from working full time and I had just been sitting around. I thought to myself that I still have a purpose in my life and I had been to Light of Hope. So CASA came to my mind and I went to an information hour. The rest is history.”
When he’s not advocating for kids or spending time with his wife and family, you might find Mark in a music studio as the pianist for various gospel and worship collections. From majoring in music performance during his college days in Nashville… to playing in bands and orchestras… and to now playing in studio, Mark has always found a way to follow his passions.
And now, he’s helping vulnerable kids get on a path to follow their own.
If you’d like to join Mark in changing the lives of vulnerable kids in the Pikes Peak Region, check out the volunteer opportunities at CASA of the Pikes Peak Region.