“When my husband and I decided it was time to have kids, I quit my job so I could be a full-time mom,” said the former worldwide director of travel and transportation for IBM. For Lisa Walsh, “full-time mom” included serving as PTA president at her kids’ schools and raising funds for community sports programs.
“I’d heard about the Court Appointed Special Advocates program years ago,” Lisa said, “but I knew it would require a serious time commitment, and my kids were just too young.”
Years passed. Lisa's father, Al Schuman, became first a CASA volunteer and then a board member. “I was a volunteer fundraiser with an emergency foster-care organization,” recalled the Great Falls resident. "Through my dad’s experience, I saw that CASA is a substantive opportunity to use your skills to really make a difference.” So she signed on.
Lisa found her CASA case work tough but enlightening. “I learned that the judges really pay attention to what the CASA volunteers report, because you have a real relationship with the kids,” she said. “It’s way more rewarding than fundraising. As a CASA volunteer, you’re an important part of a team effort to help kids.”
The CASA supervisors are also part of that team. “The supervisors are great—always there for you,” Lisa said. “You never feel alone.”
Lisa found that her supervisors not only helped her with day-to-day matters, but also provided important perspective. “I’d get frustrated sometimes with our inability to come up with the ideal situation for kids,” she said. Her supervisor helped her see that the goal is not to find the ideal but to do what’s best for the child, given the options available. “Perfect is not the standard,” Lisa said. “A safe and caring environment is.”
Meeting that standard requires a serious commitment; being an effective CASA volunteer is not easy. “It’s demanding, no question,” Lisa said. “You have to be willing to be inconvenienced. But because it is so demanding, it is so rewarding. My life is richer for having worked with these kids.”
Would you like to learn more about CASA volunteering? Attend Fairfax CASA's next information session on Saturday, September 15, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., at the Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church.