If you are a Green Bay Packer fan, the name Corey Linsley may bring to mind the starting center for the green and gold. But for CASA of Brown County, Corey, and his wife Anna, mean something a little different.
For nearly a year, Corey and Anna have been CASA volunteers. CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, is a national, nonprofit organization with nearly 1,000 state and local programs. According to the CASA of Brown County website, their mission is to “provide a voice for abused and neglected children who are under the legal protection of the court system.”
With the help of volunteers within the community, CASA programs are able to give a voice to children in difficult situations. Corey and Anna took time to reflect on their time with CASA and discuss the impact it has had on their lives.
Why did you choose to become CASA volunteers?
Anna: When Corey and I first learned about CASA and the voice they were providing to children in our community - it seemed like a no brainer. Who wouldn't want to help a child dealing with an unfortunate circumstance by no fault of their own have a voice and a say in their well being?
Corey: I wanted to make a difference in the community and in the life of a child.
How has being a CASA volunteer impacted you?
Anna: I think being a volunteer has impacted us in numerous ways. First off, it is a constant reminder of the resiliency and innocence of our youth. Unfortunately, many CASA kids are dealing with family situations that many of us have never even imagined or considered as a reality. Our kiddos remind us on a regular basis how incredible they are given their circumstances. Second, it has reinforced how crucial a positive and good support system is - both as a child and as adult. We all need support at some point or another in our life journey - sometimes more than others. Finally, we all have the power to make a difference in our communities and we should take it. Finding a cause that you are passionate about and taking the time to truly prioritize that passion is so important. A little bit of effort - goes such a long way especially with organizations like CASA.
Corey: It has opened my eyes to some of the harsh realities that kids face in our community and how even through these tough times, children can still persevere and thrive.
What kind of impact do you think you have had on the children as a CASA?
Anna: I think the biggest impact we've had is reminding them how important they are to us and as individuals. They are worth every minute of every visit we spend with them or report we write. We are constantly making sure they know how much we care about their well-being, how they are doing in school, what activities they are interested in or what sports they are playing.
Corey: I think my wife and I have had positive impacts on our kids. Every time we go to visit, they are always excited to have us there and spend time with us. Not every visit is perfect, but overall our kids seem happier now than when we first started visiting them.
What has been your favorite moment in your time with CASA?
Anna: There have been a lot of incredible moments - it’s hard to pick just one. For most, an hour a week doesn't seem like very much time. I think it hit us just how much that hour a week means to our kids when one of them had to write about their heroes at school and this particular kiddo chose to write about us. It's those moments where you realize what an impact you are having.
Corey: My favorite moment as an advocate was the first time the kids gave us hugs when we got to the door. I knew that after many visits, we had a created a special bond with them.
If you could tell people who are unsure about being a CASA volunteer anything to convince them to join CASA, what would you say?
Anna: We would tell them it's one of the most meaningful parts of each and every week. We look forward to seeing our kiddos - and when we can't it feels like part of our routine is off. We are always planning and thinking of fun activities to do when we visit. It's the type of giving back where you are truly reminded of your effort and the impact goes both ways. I'd also ask them to imagine being a child in a situation, where you may not have an adult you can trust and rely on to help you: YOU can be that person for them. The reports we write to the judge are so important to making sure the kids find a safe and permanent home.
Corey: Every story from every advocate is different. Each case has its ups and downs but the moment you realize how big of an impact you are having on a child's life - it will be one of the most gratifying feelings you will ever experience.
For more information on how to become a CASA volunteer, go to https://www.casabc.org/volunteer. You must be 21 years of age to become a volunteer. Any and all majors can apply to become a volunteer.