Cheri Starr has been a CASA for almost 7 years. Cheri always wanted to work with abused children, and while her career took her on a different path, she found the CASA program through a friend who had been a CASA for many years. She’s been a CASA for a total of three children: a 10-year-old boy, a 6-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl, each of them for 2-3 years.
Cheri is also the aunt of Cameron Jones, a CASA advocate for a little over a year who attributes his choice to become a CASA largely because of Cheri’s impact. Prior to becoming a CASA, Cameron mentions his aunt’s excitement and passion for her CASA role as inspiring and contagious, motivating him to learn more about what it meant to be a CASA. Ultimately, when sitting in church one Sunday, a video was played advertising CASA and sharing a testimony of an advocate and Cameron felt called to finally sign up for the CASA training. Two months later, Cameron was sworn in as a CASA advocate and a few weeks later, was assigned to his first case just before COVID-19 quarantine. Cheri knew Cameron’s kind and giving heart would make him a wonderful CASA.
Cameron and Cheri, in their new shared bond as CASA advocates, often use each other as resources to discuss the ups and downs or progress with their youth and the broader CASA role. The shared recognition that being a CASA is not without its challenges or frustrations, but ultimately recognizing the fulfillment and positive impact you can have on your youth far outweighs personal apprehensions and expectations.
The infamous ‘Starfish’ story shared during CASA training has proven to be a key mantra and motivation for both Cameron and Cheri this past year. Navigating the unique challenges of COVID-19, quarantine lock downs, and socially distanced relationships with family, friends, and their CASA youth has been difficult, but the ever-present opportunity to make an impact on their youth provides the hope and energy to continue advocating and building trust despite the challenges of the past year. Being able to lean on each other, as well as their case supervisors, to navigate the unique challenges of being an advocate has proven to be an invaluable support system for Cameron and Cheri.
Being a CASA has been an amazing experience for both Cameron and Cheri, not only as advocates, but growing their family relationship as well. Although being a CASA is a commitment, both Cheri and Cameron emphasize how the time is nothing compared to the opportunity to advocate for these kids and try to give them hope and love. Cameron and Cheri hope that anyone reading this looks into this wonderful organization and signs up for the informational meeting. The joy and love that will fill your heart being a CASA will bring joy to a deserving CASA child’s life as well.