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Volunteer Glenda Pearson 

Volunteer Voice

Glenda Pearson
CASA Volunteer
Children’s Voice: CASA, Inc.
Douglasville, GA

Three years after migrating to the US from Trinidad in 1969, I began my legal secretarial career. Over the next 37 years, I worked with major law firms in New York City and Atlanta. I retired in 2009.

One day a fellow legal secretary gave a talk about being a CASA volunteer and how she helped change the lives of several children. Later I saw an ad in one of our monthly newsletters seeking advocates. I went through the training and became a CASA volunteer in 2003. So far, I have worked with 12 children.

I credit Judge Peggy Walker for helping me maintain my dedication as a volunteer. She reads our reports thoroughly, is fair and always supports our efforts. I also thank Dawn West and her staff at the CASA program for their encouragement.

Being an advocate allows me to make decisions that can change a child’s life for the better. Sometimes it means helping to get the children back to their parents. In other cases, I must reluctantly recommend that they not return. Advocating for the children is the key. But first it’s essential to get to know the parents, the efforts they are making and whether or not they can provide a safe home.

CASA volunteers make a difference. In one particularly satisfying case, I was able to work with a mother and provide access to services for both her and her children. The result was that she was able to create a safe home that would allow the children to be returned to her.

This mother was a meth user. I worked closely with the family and observed that the mother really loved her children. Despite the odds, she wanted to kick the habit and to go back to school. Her daughter, then 12 years old, was an A student. Her son, a year younger, had difficulties because he could not accept separation from his mother. Both children looked forward to my visits at their foster home. I would have encouraging conversations with them.

The mother’s life was rather complex. Her husband—not the father of the children in my case—divorced her during the time this case was in court. He sought and obtained custody of their toddler. During my visits to the husband’s home, I realized that there were issues regarding alcohol and abuse which had impacted the mother and her two older children while they lived at the home. The mother also told me some of the horrors of her own childhood. She had been raped at age 7, but family members were not supportive when she told her story. When she experienced postpartum depression after the birth of her last child and no one listened or understood when she expressed her feelings, she began her meth habit.

The road to reunification involved making sure that the children’s needs were being met, including counseling support, and that they were comfortable in the foster parents’ home. When the mother appeared in court the day she regained custody, the judge remarked how well she had done. Despite rough economic times, the mother had obtained her GED. Last fall, she started college and is completing a criminal justice course. Her son is receiving the counseling he needs and is doing extremely well. Her daughter is on the honor roll and will be heading for college this year.

The highlights of my time as a CASA volunteer are many. They include having my employer host a meeting where Georgia CASA representatives spoke to the legal secretaries about volunteering. I also recall vividly each time the judge made a decision in favor of children reuniting with their parents. Finally, I was proud to receive the first-ever Jacque Schwarzkopf Child Advocacy Award from my CASA program. This award was created after the death of Jacque, a beloved CASA volunteer whose dedication to the children she served will always be an example. The award meant so much to me because I thought there was no way I could ever reach the heights Jacque did as a volunteer.

Being a volunteer is not difficult. All it takes is a person with a kind and loving heart who loves children and who can make the commitment to see things through.

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Anonymous @ 9/2/2010 3:06:58 PM 
We need more people like Glenda who has given herself unselfishly to the hope of securing the lives and safety of the children who so desperately need a voice in this world. Glenda thank you for being s shining example to all of us.

Victoria Brathwaite
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