Mary Laureau's decision to become a CASA volunteer was not an easy one. “My husband was against it at first,” the retired corporate communications executive said. “He thought I’d get too emotionally invested."
But Mary, of Oakton, learned she could compartmentalize her involvement and not let it keep me up at night. “Well, sometimes it does,” she admitted with a laugh. “But knowing you’re making a real difference in the kids’ lives makes it all worthwhile.”
Mary also learned to overcome the tendency to judge others. Recalling an especially tough CASA assignment involving child abuse in a family from a different culture, Mary said, “It’s almost unavoidable to judge abusive parents harshly.” But Mary took the time to study the parents’ native culture, and she saw them making a sincere effort to better understand American culture. “Of course, there’s no excuse or justification for child abuse,” she said. “But if you can put aside your pre-judgment and learn and empathize, you can start to understand the causes of child abuse, how it can happen.” That makes it easier, in her view, for everyone to work toward solving the problem.
“Easy” is not a word that often comes to mind when Mary thinks about her CASA experiences. “The training is really intensive,” she said. “I was afraid at first—afraid I’d forget all the legal terminology, afraid of going into households where you know there’s been abuse, afraid I wouldn’t really be able to help the kids.” But Mary found her CASA supervisors “incredibly knowledgeable, supportive, caring people. I went into CASA training with all these fears,” she said, “and I came out fearless.”
“It’s not for everybody,” Mary said of becoming a CASA volunteer. “But if you can do the work, there’s nothing more rewarding. I just love it.”
Would you like to become a CASA volunteer? Attend the June 16 information session and learn more about this rewarding and challenging volunteer role.