I recently began working as our Administrative Assistant and Training & Recruitment Specialist at Brightside Advocacy. As the Training & Recruitment Specialist, I get to do one of my favorite things: prospective CASA volunteer interviews. Through the interview process, I am always curious to learn why prospects pursue this kind of volunteer work. What drives a person to pursue a volunteer experience that may be emotionally draining, potentially stressful, and at times, frustrating? While I cannot answer for others, I can tell you why I chose this kind of work.
Before joining the Brightside staff, I was a CASA volunteer. I swore in October 2019. Reflecting on the last three years, I am reminded why I became a CASA volunteer.
My story: On a weeknight in April 2019, I was working on homework (did I mention that I was finishing my master’s degree while doing CASA training and working full time?!). Anyway, I took a quick break to scroll through my phone and stumbled upon an article about a little girl who was fatally abused by her caregivers. While this wasn’t my first time learning about child abuse and neglect, this time, I was deeply impacted by this little girl’s story. At that moment, empathy and action were aligned within me. I wanted to do something about the anger, sadness, and powerlessness I felt. Soon after that experience, I attended a CASA volunteer information session and began the application process. I remember both nervousness and excitement sitting in my chest. I was nervous about this new experience but excited that I was actively pursuing child advocacy. Even after I swore in, I was still afraid of the unknown. I was filled with thoughts like, “what if I mess up?” or “I’m not a legal expert,” and so on. However, my desire to change a child’s story outweighed my fears. Additionally, I was surrounded by support from my advocacy coordinator and the CASA team.
We tend to think that the presence of fear indicates that we are doing something harmful. While I agree that fear can be a protective warning, it may also present itself when we are doing something unfamiliar to us. Throughout my life, I have learned that taking action is the only way to ease nerves and abate fear. Many of us want to live more confident lives, but to gain confidence, we must grow- which can be scary. Had I given in to the fears surrounding CASA-volunteer-unknowns, I would not have taken the first step. As I consider my story, I see that my compassion trumped my fears.
What about you? Maybe you’re a volunteer who can relate to my story. Perhaps you know someone who wants to volunteer, but fear is getting in the way. In this instance, I would say that fear may be a taste of the unknown. I hope that your desire to change a child’s story outshines your fears.
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