CASA Spotlight - Greg Peterson

This month we shine our volunteer spotlight on Greg Peterson!

Greg initially learned of CASA OC through a friend of his several years ago. It was appealing to him so he decided he wanted to learn more. To learn more about CASA OC, he attended an information session and felt that it was a perfect opportunity for him to be able to help a child in need.  

He has now been with CASA OC for about six years. He was first assigned to a 16 year old boy who is now 19 years old, named William*. When he first got this case, he heard from others that William was short tempered, but Greg never saw that side of him. Greg describes William as very honest and always polite. He has seen him grow in the years he’s worked with him, especially in the  area of independence. William recently moved out of transitional housing into his own apartment and purchased a car. Seeing William succeed in these areas has been incredibly rewarding for Greg. He is very proud of all that William has achieved.  

Greg and William found a commonality in skateboarding. Greg used to skateboard in his younger years and found that William also loved to skateboard. Greg found this to be a great way to bond with his youth. They would find themselves talking about skateboarding a lot and Greg would take him to skate parks and watch him skateboard. At times, William would get in trouble about skateboarding and Greg states he was able to relate to this as he had experienced this in his younger years also. Their common interest in skateboarding allowed Greg to bond more easily with his William and helped lay a foundation for the strong relationship they have today.

Greg feels that his consistent presence has made a difference in William's life. Just being a constant in his life and continually emphasizing the importance of graduating contributed to his youth getting through high school and growing into the young man he is today. Greg saw how much William loved his father and how much William wanted a close relationship with him; however, his father lives far so that limited their contact. Now that William is out of transitional housing and in his own apartment, Greg regularly texts him to see if he is okay. William confided in Greg that no one other than him checks in on him to see how he is doing like Greg does. This statement was one of the most meaningful things William said to him as Greg realized how important he, as a CASA, is to his youth. Greg states that as a parent, that is what you do with your own children, but William doesn’t have that; thus, he appreciates it from him even more. When asked what Greg’s greatest success is with William, he would say the longevity of time they have been together as well as the success in helping his youth to understand the importance of getting his high school diploma.

The challenges that Greg faces on his case have been plenty. Of course there are struggles and Greg explained that William has had ups and downs. Greg describes that things would go great for a week, then the next week he would struggle with school, drug use or trouble with the police. He stresses that CASAs need to have patience and the understanding that these things take time.

Greg extended his generous heart and time to another CASA youth during the pandemic. He was assigned to work with a 20 year old young man who needed someone to support and guide him in his last year of foster care. This case has since closed; however, Greg, understanding that a year isn’t enough, continues to be a supportive adult in this youth’s life. They continue to get together every couple weeks and have a good relationship with each other.  

Greg’s advice to other CASAs is to remember that things won't happen quickly and that you have to be patient. It is a long term commitment, even longer than the two years that the organization asks for. Greg feels good knowing that he is making an impact in someone’s life even if just as a sounding board for his youth. Greg knows that being a constant in both their lives is essential for their success. He provides support, a listening ear, and most importantly, empowers them to go after their dreams and believe in themself.  

*Name changed to protect confidentiality.

Greg’s Case Supervisor, Karyn Quick, shares: “Greg has been a CASA for over four years. Greg continues to work on his first case which had a lot of twists and turns. He took on another young adult who really needed a mentor and encouragement to do his best during difficult times during the Pandemic. This young adult turned 21 several months ago and Greg continues to see him. Greg has been a great advocate, he has a calm presence and meets the youth where they are at. Greg is a pleasure to work with.”

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