CASA Spotlight - Marion Sistrunk

Marion has been a CASA volunteer for over a year. She is humble and has a good heart, always taking the time to do things for others. Her friend, who is now a social worker, used to volunteer as a CASA and shared with Marion the uniqueness of the CASA program. Marion wanted to find a volunteer program where she could make a bigger impact and build an actual relationship with someone. When she found out about CASA, she was excited about the opportunity to connect with a youth in foster care.

Marion has taken on two cases since becoming a CASA and both were during the pandemic. Marion was sworn in as a court-appointed special advocate in August 2019. Marion was matched with her second youth, 17 year old *Claire in February 2021.

She describes Claire as introspective, funny, social, and adventurous. Though they met during the pandemic, Marion was able to plan outings as things began to open and vaccines became available.  One of their first outings was bowling which seemed to be a hit with Claire. They also enjoy shopping at Target and roller skating together. Marion and Claire hit it off from the beginning and love seeing each other every month.

Marion said, “When I first met Claire, she seemed lonely and depressed. She seemed eager for attention and someone to hang out with.” Marion added, “Since then, Claire has grown into a young woman who is happier, more herself and who can easily make friends.”

One of the biggest challenges for Marion has been how to navigate her youth’s substance abuse. It was hard for Marion to navigate the telltale signs of someone using and know what to do. She took the time to educate herself on the topic to learn how she could best support Claire’s needs. Marion also relies on her Case Supervisor Donna Doocy when needed.

At the moment, Claire is doing really well despite her previous trauma. She continues to work on her sobriety with a lot of support from her team.  Claire has been able to maintain good grades and will graduate from high school on time. She would like to remain in extended foster care once she turns 18 and wants to go to college and start working. Marion encourages Claire to advocate for herself since she will be reaching adulthood soon and knows how important it is to have independent living skills as a young adult.

Marion’s advice to other CASAs is to listen more and give advice less. Marion said, “If we are not listening to our youth, then how can we best advocate for them?” Marion shared that her Case Supervisor is key to her success as a CASA. Donna Doocy, Marion’s Case Supervisor, said,  “Marion is truly a dedicated CASA. Her youth has struggled with drugs and alcohol for quite some time. Impressively, Marion did a lot of research on the particular drugs her youth was using so she could educate herself.  I think her youth was quite surprised at Marion's knowledge but, perhaps, relieved. Marion's patience and understanding has been so needed for her youth who has had so many people abandon her. Marion should be proud to call herself a CASA!”

‍*Name changed to protect confidentiality.

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