Thursday, Sep 22, 2022
Gwen Hornsey has felt the tug at her heart to be a CASA volunteer more than once in her life. She first started her journey 17 years ago when she volunteered for a short time before having children. Gwen returned as a CASA volunteer almost two years ago and has been a strong advocate for the children she serves since.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
My husband, James, and I just celebrated our 22nd Anniversary and we have two amazing teenagers. I manage a small business office and homeschool my daughters. My goals are to share the love that I have received and to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. My hobby is running in 100-mile adventure races.
How did you first hear about and get involved with CASA?
I honestly can’t remember how I first heard about CASA. It was way back in the day before social media, but I knew that speaking up for kids was something that I wanted to do!
What is it like to be a CASA volunteer?
It is “brutiful,” a word I use to describe some of my 100-mile adventures, brutal and beautiful all at the same time. It can be painful to see and hear about what kids (and parents) have gone through, but it can be rewarding to play a small part in making their future brighter. Being an advocate for a child and staying in contact with all the care providers is a worthwhile investment!
What would you tell someone considering becoming a CASA volunteer?
Do it!! It is worth the time and the effort.
What has surprised you the most about volunteering with CASA?
Relationships - I expected to form a relationship with my CASA kids, but I had not anticipated the other relationships with care providers, parents, teachers, therapists, and the amazing CASA staff.
Have you had any cases that have really stuck out to you? If so, why?
I’ve only served on two cases throughout my journey, and both have been memorable. My first case was an infant. I watched her mom make decisions to mature and care for her child. My current case is a tough one, but I have learned so much throughout.
What is the most gratifying/self-rewarding experience you’ve had as a CASA volunteer?
I recently was able to celebrate my CASA kid’s birthday and their therapist mentioned that because the child’s case worker had changed, I had been the only constant in the child’s life. At first, it made me sad for the child, but then I realized that’s why I wanted to be a CASA volunteer!
How have the children you have worked with impacted your life?
I have learned much about trauma and how it impacts us from the children I have worked with.
What advice do you have for new volunteers?
My advice for a new volunteer is to keep learning and asking questions! It may seem overwhelming at times, but our CASA staff are available to help. Just today on my staffing call my supervisor helped me formulate just what I wanted to say to a participant in my case. So don’t be afraid to ask for help!
More CASA volunteers, like Gwen, are needed to advocate for children who enter the child welfare system. Volunteers who will help to ensure these children have the best opportunities to thrive. Are you ready to help? Volunteer today!