Jessica Cummings: Finding the Time to Help Children

CASA of the 5th Judicial Circuit, Jackson County, WV

Jessica Cummings

One day I saw an ad in our community newspaper announcing that a new CASA program was starting, and it called to me. I cut that ad out and set it on my desk. In the shuffle of papers, it kept rising to the top. About a week later, I called the program.

I was in the first class to be trained, that was about three years ago. I was the youngest member of that class, and to this day I am the youngest volunteer in the program.

I find that a lot of younger people—people in their 20s and 30s—feel that their lives are so busy that they cannot find time to become involved in CASA. That is simply not true.

We find time to do the things we love. We find time to watch television, we find time to talk on the phone, we find time to get onto Facebook. We can find some time in our day to devote to these children, who need us so desperately.

I was appointed my very first case five days after being sworn in. I went into the office and my coordinator told me that I was being appointed to a sibling group of five children ranging in age from 3 to 15 years old. The case involved physical abuse, emotional abuse, substance abuse. It was very complex, and I was pretty busy at the time. 

But these children deserved to have somebody to stand up for them, so I took the case.

The oldest child was a teenage girl. I had been told by department folks that she was a problem: "She needs special education classes, she needs medication, she needs therapy, she has anger management issues...."

When I met the child, I immediately saw that she had been pegged completely wrong. The problem was with the home, not with the child. I was appalled to think that the critical, condemning information I had received about her was the only information the judge was receiving.

The minute she and her younger siblings were removed from that home into a good home—a safe home, a permanent home—she changed. Since the very semester that she was moved, she has had over a 3.8 grade point average. She’s involved in school activities, in church. She’s not bitter about what happened to her. She is a shining light, an example.

In the end, it isn’t what I did for her, it is what she did for me. She showed me resilience, and that you can do anything.



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