Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Volunteering is just that — it makes life exceptionally meaningful. While I’ve been doing volunteer work most of my life, it wasn’t until my own children moved away to college and I became an empty nester when I first thought about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocates advocate.
And what better way to fill the void of not having children around than by helping other children in need?
If you aren’t familiar with the organization, advocates help children in the child protection system who’ve experienced abuse or neglect. Their best-interest advocacy helps ensure that children are safe, well cared for and have a permanent home.
Having men as advocates is critical for children in our community. Many of these children don’t have positive male role models in their lives. Studies show children with positive male influence have numerous benefits that include better physical well-being, higher competency for relating with others, greater ability to take initiative, better evidence of self-control, higher academic achievement and reduced likelihood of using drugs.
Only 13 percent of Galveston County advocates are men. I believe it’s paramount to the success of the children in our community that we men play a larger role in helping to shape the lives of the next generation.
Being an advocate not only provides opportunities for helping children, but helps the entire family as well. I have the privilege of getting to know the family better than anyone else working the case.
While everyone involved in a case is extremely committed to the best interest of the children and families, the advocate has the opportunity to spend more time with the family than others. This allows the advocate to make an impact on a child’s life in such a meaningful way. Taking a situation that’s inherently tragic and helping to turn it around in the eyes of a child is incredibly rewarding.
I used to think that volunteering had to be a completely selfless act. I’ve since learned that it’s not only OK to feel rewarded from volunteering, but it’s actually a good thing. I feel an incredible sense of satisfaction and accomplishment every day knowing that I’m making a positive impact in the life of a child.
If you have the desire, patience, and heart to work with children and families, I ask that you consider getting involved.
Will you be the next hero to a child in need of one?
For more information about becoming an advocate and volunteering with CASA of Galveston County, visit casagalveston.org/volunteer.