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The Impact of Being a CASA/GAL Volunteer: One Volunteer’s Perspective

Samuel HerodSamuel Herod, CASA of Los Angeles Volunteer
National CASA Association 2015 Volunteer of the Year


Samuel Herod is a veteran CASA volunteer by any standard. In a tough job, where the average tenure is three years (National CASA Annual Survey 2014), Sam has been a volunteer with CASA of Los Angeles for 15 years. He enthusiastically shared his thoughts on his impact as a CASA volunteer in the courtroom as well as in his own life.

In discussing his value to the court, Sam said, “That’s why I’m a CASA! What CASA volunteers do makes the judges more confident. They don’t have to worry about the CASA cases. We give them solid information, very thorough, whether it’s about mental health or education or even adoption. We dig until we get to the bottom of things. Our work helps the judge feel like ‘I’ve made a good decision in this case – now I can get to the rest of my 40-50 cases.’ That’s what they value about CASA.”

The impact that CASA had on Sam’s own life was even more profound. He knew from working with foster youth in the CASA program that he wanted to make this work “more than volunteering”. He retired at 58 from his job at the Getty Center in Los Angeles so he could spend all his time helping kids. For the past three years, Sam has worked as the director of a non-profit program that finds housing for youth that are emancipating from the system – a huge need everywhere but especially in Los Angeles with over 30,000 children in foster care.

Sam hasn’t let up in his work with CASA of Los Angeles. He not only continues to be a child advocate but is also a partner in recruiting. He talks up CASA every chance he gets, joins the staff in presentations and opens his facility to CASA for volunteer training on weeknights or information programs about CASA on weekends. He believes the only way to grow needed programs is by working in the community.

As Sam said in his acceptance speech after being named National CASA Association 2015 Volunteer of the Year, “…it’s important that once we leave here and go back home, we create some ideas and ways of making it work for our communities. If you are here in this room, it’s for a reason. We all have the same goals and desires. We should also foster hope for our kids, we should foster dreams, we should foster opportunity, we should foster education and, last, we should foster love."

 

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