This month we shine our spotlight on Advocate Jason Holland!
Jason’s involvement with CASA started a few years ago. Jason was first introduced to the CASA program while working at Segerstrom for the Arts, as the non-profit works with numerous community partners and CASA is one of them. After understanding more about CASA’s mission and vision, Jason wanted to help spread the word in his community about CASA. He continues to do outreach for CASA and helps to connect other community partners with the program. One day, he stumbled upon a social media post about a strikingly high number of cases in the foster care system and the significant need for male CASAs. How could he keep looking away? Jason knew he wanted to give back in a more direct way, so he decided to become a CASA volunteer. That was two years ago. Nowadays, given the pandemic, Jason shows his support by wearing his CASA mask when going outside of his house. Throughout his involvement with CASA, he has developed a true passion for the CASA mission and his genuine compassion and dedication is demonstrated through his commitment to CASA outreach in his community as well as his role as a CASA volunteer supporting not one, but two foster youth simultaneously.
Jason was assigned to his first CASA case in 2018. His CASA youth, Seth*, was 16 at the time. Seth has been through a lot in his life and had to overcome many challenges. Since entering foster care in early 2018, he has moved to nine different placements, been hospitalized for mental health reasons, dealt with substance use issues, and recently ended up homeless for a short amount of time while living out of state. In addition, he has special needs in school and mental health needs that require medications.
Jason describes Seth as a smart and headstrong young man who is particular about what he shares with people as he has a harder time trusting people. He enjoys going to the movies and going to sports games with his CASA. He loves beat boxing so sometimes he and his CASA would just ride and listen to music while Seth would practice his beat boxing. Seth and Jason were able to go to a couple Angels baseball games and even get a tour of the stadium. One of the most memorable moments for Jason was when Seth video called him while he was living out of state. Seth is a major Dallas Cowboys football fan, so when was able to get a tour of the stadium the first thing he did was video call his CASA so he could share this phenomenal moment with Jason.
The hardest part about being a CASA for Jason is not being able to make decisions for his youth and just being an observer at times. With support from his case supervisor, Jason had to learn many times that he needed to step back in his role and let his youth do what he wants to do. Jason does not push his perspective on his youth and focuses on what makes Seth happy. Jason describes himself as a fixer, so learning how to adapt and change his expectations was a challenge for him. Jason has many hopes and aspirations for his youth, but success is different for everyone. Jason shares that “with Seth, success right now is having a roof over his head and not being homeless nor in jail”. Jason is there to support his youth no matter where his journey takes him. Right now, Jason is just trying to keep Seth safe, sober, and in a stable placement.
When Seth decided to move out of state to be with distant family members, Jason decided to support another foster youth given the fact that Seth’s case was probably going to close. However, Seth recently came back to Orange County and remains in the foster care system. Jason is still his CASA. Jason’s second CASA youth, Thomas* is 11 years old. He started working with Thomas in June. Jason is focusing on getting to know him and how to best support Thomas. Thomas is very talkative, and Jason is currently enjoying learning about Pokémon. Jason continues working with both boys and alternates seeing each youth every other week.
Jason’s advice to other CASAs is to keep showing up for their youth, even if it gets difficult. He also shares the value in attending CASA to CASA events. Coming in as a new CASA can be scary, so learning from seasoned CASAs can help shift the mindset of how one might think the case should be going.
Jason is a big supporter of CASA and all that it does not only for foster youth but also for the volunteers who serve the youth. Being a CASA has helped Jason understand the complexity of the life of a foster youth and is now able to see them for who they really are- beautiful, resilient, and exceptional young people who did not deserve what they went through. CASA is very important to Jason and shares that the “the value in time that someone makes to show up for someone is the heart and soul of what it means to be a CASA”.
*Name changed to protect confidentiality.
Jason's case supervisor, Karyn Quick, shares, “I have had the honor of supervising Jason Holland for the past two years. Jason is a caring, insightful, and fierce advocate for the two youth he is assigned to. I look forward to supporting and working with Jason in his CASA role. Thank you for your commitment to the CASA agency and foster youth.”
CASA’s chief communication officer, Matthew Wadlinger, shares, “CASA-OC is incredibly fortunate to have Jason Holland as a volunteer and supporter. I would describe Jason as an amazing advocate and mentor who is deeply analytical, compassionate, empathetic, funny, friendly and someone who is intrinsically motivated. I am incredibly proud and honored to have Jason as a part of our CASA-OC team and I hope that he continues to be a CASA volunteer for many years to come.”