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Lives Changed: Youth Stories

Appointed by judges, CASA and guardian ad litem volunteers ensure that the needs of children who have been neglected or abused are heard—in the community and in the courtroom.

Meet some of the young people whose lives were changed by the intervention of a CASA volunteer.

Savanna: Gaining Ground by Losing Hope

SavannaSavanna assumed the role of a parent at a very early age. Her mother—consumed by her addiction to alcohol and drugs—was seldom home to take care of Savanna and her four siblings. Despite this, Savanna longed for her mother to come back to them.

Read how the steady support of a CASA volunteer helped Savanna move forward with her own life.  [Photo by Alysha Beck/The World]

Josh Kelchner: Focused on Family

Josh KelchnerBefore Josh and his younger siblings were taken into foster care, Josh Kelchner played parent to his sisters and brother while his mother succumbed to drug and alcohol addictions. After the children were taken into foster care, Josh did everything he could to try to keep his family together. But it almost wasn't enough.

Read how a volunteer advocate helped Josh and his siblings stay in touch and kept Josh focused on a successful future.


Dashun: From Victim to Victorious

Dashun JacksonAs a boy, my three sisters and I suffered just about every form of abuse you can imagine. When I was 13 years old, we were all removed from our home. After that, I bounced around, from a children’s emergency shelter to an aunt’s house, then back to the shelter. Without knowledge or the power to speak up, I felt like a victim.

A year and a half later, I met my CASA volunteer, Robert. And everything changed.
Read Dashun's story.


Laura: A Journey of Survival

Laura NunesLong before my feet touched Iraqi soil—before I even joined the United States Marine Corps—I was a veteran of a long war for survival....

Read Laura's story.

Read an article about Laura and Sally in the American Legion's magazine.


John: From an Overly Medicated Boy to a Loved Young Man

CASA JohnCheryl Reed, volunteer with CASA of the Coastal Bend (TX), shares the story of John, a child who suffered years of neglect by a drug-addicted mother and physical abuse by her boyfriends before finding a safe, permanent home.

Read John's story.


Melissa: Our CASA Volunteer Was Our Voice

Melissa RuggeroOur suffering began well before we were born. My younger siblings and I were all exposed to prenatal drug and alcohol use at birth, and each of us suffered the long-term effects....For the first 12 years of my life, I was never allowed to be a child. 

Read Melissa's story.



Shumeka: Transitioning from Foster Care to College

Shumeka MooreIf I didn’t have the support system that I have, I don't know exactly where I would be. Family, that was not an option, so I would probably be in a shelter somewhere....

In two recent radio interviews, Shumeka Moore describes how the steadfast support of her CASA volunteer helped her make the transition from foster care to college. Listen to a short interview on WAMU 88.5 or a 20-minute interview on The Michael Eric Dyson Show that also features her CASA volunteer, Kristal Wortham.


The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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