Always a caregiver, Rochelle Salmore spent her 43-year nursing career at Penrose Hospital finding new ways to help people. Her favorite accomplishment was improving the efficiency of patient care through a program she pioneered called the Nurse Scientist Program.
“I was thinking about retiring and knew I wanted to continue to do something helpful and that I wanted to work with kids, so I looked up CASA… I took the training and the rest is history.”
That was in 2015 and now Rochelle is entering her third year as a volunteer in CASA’s Supervised Exchange & Parenting Time (SEPT) program and in the organization’s Life Long Links program.
When she first began facilitating children’s visits with non-custodial parents in the SEPT program, Rochelle says it was a bit different than she expected.
“I anticipated being able to develop relationships with the kids,” she explained. “In fact, that didn’t happen. What I saw instead was that as the parents would start visiting, they developed the relationships. It was so rewarding to see.”
She knows that as a SEPT volunteer, she helps make it possible for families to know each other.
But there’s another way Rochelle helps family members become acquainted. When a child is removed from his or her home due to domestic violence, abuse, or neglect, it is very important for that child to have other connections and other relationships in their lives. And that’s what Rochelle helps facilitate through CASA’s Life Long Links program.
“Part of what we do is search for current relatives but then we also try to build a family tree for each child,” she explains. “Studies have shown that kids in foster care are more successful in school and life and in socialization if they know they have biological family somewhere.”
Life Long Links volunteers work to locate a child’s family members through public records, ancestry.com, familysearch.org, and social media. Once she finds one, she’ll ask if they’re willing to contact the child through CASA. It depends on the case, but sometimes the Life Long Links program will uncover a placement option for a child. Other times, the program’s volunteers find enough information to build a family tree.
Rochelle enjoys putting family trees together for children because it provides a sense of belonging.
“They can put a face to a name and they know they have relatives somewhere,” she said. “They know that they came from a great big family and can look at the pictures… “It’s my little piece of being able to help these kids who have had such trauma in their lives.”
Perhaps another reason she enjoys building the family trees is because it’s a natural outlet for her artsy, craftsy side. In addition to giving back to the community through CASA, Rochelle takes painting and weaving classes. She participates in Silver Sneakers fitness activities with her husband, and spends quite a bit of time traveling to see her children and grandchildren in Denver, Oregon, and Idaho.
Learn more about volunteer opportunities with Life Long Links by clicking here.