One of the favorite parts of my job as Executive Director of Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is getting to know our volunteers. These dedicated men and women advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children who are under the court’s protection here in Fairfax County. Each and every volunteer has a story to share about why they volunteer or how they have helped.
Today I want to introduce you to Burke resident Susan Parr, who has volunteered with Fairfax CASA for the past three years. Susan has been a constant, steady presence in the lives of five young children who experienced abuse. Her story inspires me – and I hope it will inspire you – because she sees her CASA work as a calling that cannot be refused. - Lisa Banks
“I grew up in a safe, loving home. And I believe that all children deserve to be raised that way. Knowing that there are kids in our country who don’t have that, it called out to me, and that’s why I decided to become a CASA volunteer.
"Don’t get me wrong. It’s a tough subject, but you can make a real difference. The moment that stands out in my mind is of my first time in front of a judge. I had some serious concerns about the safety of the child outside of the home because of a mental disability. It was clear the judge had read my report, and he wrote an order into the court documents to prevent this from occurring again. It was a tremendously satisfying experience to know that my work helped ensure the safety of the child.
"I often get asked, ‘How can you do this? How can you work with kids who are abused? And how can you sit and talk with the people who have hurt them?’ Because in our heads, we think this only happens somewhere else. That the people who abuse children go to jail for the rest of their lives. But that’s not true. It happens all around us. And it’s up to us to change it for the better.
"So in return I ask, 'How can I not?' Some people become paramedics because they can see blood and not pass out. Some become police officers and carry a gun every day. I couldn’t do those things. But I happen to be somebody who can look at a horrific story and I’m able to say, ‘What can I do? How can I help the children in my community?’”
You, Too, Can Help
Are you interested in becoming a CASA volunteer? Fairfax CASA is hosting an information session at Burke Centre Library on March 17. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (703) 273-3526, ext. 22.