Six Volunteers Sworn In as Baltimore County CASAs
Having completed 30 hours of classroom training and two to three hours of court observation, six volunteers officially can help abused or neglected children in foster care.
Last week, Judge Kathleen G. Cox swore in the following individuals as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs): Christine Borlet and Jesse Brooks of Phoenix, Trish Casper of Reisterstown, Barbara Donovan of Lutherville, Cecilia McGriff of Joppa and Linda Felix of Rosedale.
“Once again CASA of Baltimore County is pleased to welcome a group of exceptional individuals to be the voices for children in foster care,” said Patti Ross, MRC, volunteer supervisor with CASA of Baltimore County, Inc. “Each volunteer will help to insure that this child receives the services they need and finds a safe and permanent home or has the skills needed to successfully live independently.”
The diverse group of volunteers includes a retired bus driver, homemaker/mother and registered psychiatric nurse – all with a common goal.
“Children deserve a stable life and home that is safe,” said Brooks, who grew up with six siblings and later became a mother of three and a grandmother of four. “My children are blessed and have lived lucky lives, but not as many children in the world are as fortunate. “
When her children were younger, Brooks volunteered at their schools and helped with fundraising. Now that they are grown up, she has more time to volunteer and wants to make a difference.
“It will be so rewarding to help a child get their feet back on firm ground,” she added.
Originally from England, Borlet also grew up in a large family. There were 14 children that her parents had taken in from the community.
“We weren’t actual siblings, but we developed sibling-like relationships,” she said. “Through that, I saw how tough it is not to have a stable home.”
That stayed with her and years later, when working as a psychiatric nurse, Borlet cared for mentally ill offenders who were in between prison and hospitals. Most of them had been neglected or abused as children.
While living in Indiana, she saw a CASA billboard and wanted to get involved, but couldn’t because she would be relocating for her husband’s job. After settling permanently in Maryland, the time was right for her to become a CASA volunteer.
“It’s important to tell people about CASA so children aren’t left in the dark,” Borlet said.
Currently, more than 600 Baltimore County children in foster care are waiting for a CASA volunteer. With ongoing economic problems causing additional stress on families resulting in increased reports of abuse, now more than ever, CASA volunteers are needed.
CASA of Baltimore County seeks dedicated men and women who care about children to volunteer. No special experience is required; training and supervision are provided by professional staff.
“The staff gave me a lot of reassurance and confidence,” said Borlet. “Our training group created a bond and friendship. We were very supportive of each other and gained the support of staff and supervisors, who were open to let you ask any questions, and they responded honestly and openly.”
Brooks concurred, “During the training, the other volunteers and staff were great and fun and supportive.”
“CASA is a wonderful organization and I am campaigning to recruit others, particularly men, to volunteer with such a powerful opportunity,” she added.
To learn more about becoming a CASA of Baltimore County volunteer, call 410-828-0515 or visit www.casabaltco.org.
Since 2000, CASA of Baltimore County has provided the powerful voice of volunteer advocates for children who have been removed from their parents’ or guardians’ care due to abuse and neglect. The organization has trained more than 300 volunteers who have worked to improve the future for children.