Our volunteers are truly the heart of Boston CASA. The time, care, and attention they put towards our kids is invaluable and transforms lives.
Emily Hodge is a longtime volunteer (8 years!!) and board member for Boston CASA. Read about her experience as a CASA below…
**We also want to take this opportunity to extend a special thank you to the friends and family of Emily, and her husband Aaron, who donated generously in honor of their summer wedding!**
1) Why did you decide to become a CASA?
During college I was a Psychology major and I focused on child development. As a result of several of the classes I took, I was inspired to go to law school because I felt passionate about children’s rights and being a child advocate. I first learned about CASA during law school, and although my legal career took a different direction, I remained passionate about advocating for children. I reached out to Boston CASA and became a volunteer in 2009. Children in the system are experiencing extreme turmoil, and the need for a dedicated advocate is critical. I was drawn to the idea of providing a voice for vulnerable children and CASA was the perfect opportunity for me to do that.
2) What does being a CASA mean to you?
I am very proud of my work as a CASA. I am proud not only of the individual cases I have worked on, but of being associated with this incredible organization more broadly. The work that CASAs do on behalf of children is incredible, and it can change the course of a child’s life in a positive way. That is an incredible feeling. Every child deserves the chance to feel that there is a dedicated adult in his or her life who is their champion. For many children, that is a parent, but for children in the foster care system, that is often not the case. CASAs are able to fill this significant and potentially life-altering void for children. Permanency, or the lack thereof, can have a profound impact on a child’s development. I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to play a role in obtaining permanency for children in the system.
3) What have you learned from your experience as a CASA?
I have learned so many things from my experience as a CASA over the years. I have learned a lot about the child welfare system, and how much reform we still need. I have learned the impact that a strong advocate can have on a child’s life. My most recent case has also taught me a lot about how critical a support system can be to a parent’s ability to successfully parent their child. I have learned that there are so many passionate, caring people in the world who are willing to devote their time and energy to changing the course of a child’s life. And that there are so many more children who need and deserve the opportunity to have a CASA in their lives.
4) Describe a memorable moment from working on your CASA case.
I was assigned to my current case when my CASA child was about six months old. She is now almost three, and she was placed back in the care of her mother just about two years ago. I witnessed early on that this mother was dedicated and capable of caring for her daughter, but she needed a support system and someone who believed that she could do it. I worked with her and various organizations to get her placed in a shelter and then into a scatter site where she had her own apartment, and then worked to get her daughter into daycare. This mother has experienced a lot of trauma in her life, and has some mental health challenges, so we worked to make sure she was in therapy and getting the services she needs. On a recent visit, one of the mother’s friends was at her house. The mother introduced me to her friend as a worker who believed in her and without whom she would not have custody of her daughter. To hear her characterize the work I have done in this way was very powerful, and I am grateful that I have been able to be a resource for her child and for her in navigating the system and regaining custody of her daughter.