Since Carrie Wittliff was sworn in as a CASA Guardian Ad Litem in February 2010, she has proven to be both passionate and enthusiastic about her CASA cases. Carrie, who has volunteered for school and church groups for many years, heard about CASA from one of our longtime volunteers – Cheryl Reed. Carrie, who has admitted that she gets bored easily, felt that she had the time and she wanted to do something positive that would make a difference.
In addition to currently working two CASA cases, and actively participating on the newly formed CASA Volunteer Council of Advisors and Partners (V-CAP), Carrie also spends a week every summer volunteering as the kitchen director for a Christian Youth Camp.
Carrie is very organized and thorough, but is also very cautious before she commits to a new CASA endeavor. She sets her standards high; and once she commits to the job, she is there to the end.
Carrie believes in “telling it like it is” when working with families – but she respects them as the parents of her CASA children, and always listens to what they have to say. Carrie is also very effective in Court – she has progressed from offering only minimal comments during her first Court appearance, to effectively speaking out with creative ideas and solutions for the best interest of the children.
Carrie’s first case involved a rebellious and sometimes runaway teen. For quite some time, it seemed unlikely that family reunification could be achieved, and the teen would likely end up aging out of the system (perhaps aging out as a runaway). Carrie’s strong will and perseverance did pay off when the teen was reunited with a parent who resided out of state.
Carrie’s second case is also headed toward permanency with a relative, and is expected to be dismissed soon – which has prompted her to take on a third case. This one involves two children in separate placements, who were removed from their parent more than nine months ago. As always, Carrie has begun working the case with her usual passion; knowing full well that she will be spending several hours traveling in different directions (in order to meet and get to know each child).
Carrie puts her heart into her CASA work, and yet doesn’t give herself the well deserved credit for the great work that she does. So, Carrie, thank you for all your great CASA work. We appreciate you and hope that you continue volunteering with CASA for many years to come!
Erin Shull was sworn in as a CASA Advocate on 6 October 2011. When she came in to read Affidavits and decide on her first case that month, she said, “out of all these, this one seems to need the most help.” She chose a case with one child, a teenager. They were the right match.
The child has been in multiple placements, most of them outside of Nueces County. Erin has made trips to visit her CASA child on her own, as well as with CPS Staff. The teenager testified in the criminal case against her perpetrators, her adoptive parent’s relinquished their rights, and a criminal case has been opened against another perpetrator. Erin has been a comfort to this child throughout all of these horrors that no child should have to endure. She has advocated for her child’s academic necessities, and there is constant letter writing between her and the child. Erin had thought about leaving CASA, and seeking employment. We lucked out! She decided to stay, and she even took another case in March. Her second case also has one female teenaged child. This young lady has multiple disabilities. She is placed hours away. Erin made the long trip to be with the child at her neurological appointment. Erin has made contact with everyone connected to this case, or who could provide insight; she has requested medical records from all directions; and shortly after her appointment, she attended an ARD via telephone.
Let’s add more to her plate. Erin is also on the Volunteer Council of Advisors and Partners (V-CAP); and as a member of that group, she has taken on the responsibility of researching and attempting to initiate a CASA support group that will be called Young Professionals for CASA. She is also seeking to bring her husband, who is in the medical field, into our CASA family—thereby, making them a team (a double asset) for CASA and for the children. If you’re familiar with the CASA campaign, “I Am For The Child”, you are familiar with the essence of Erin. Thank you, Erin, for all that you’ve done – and will continue to do – for our CASA kids, the CASA organization, and other CASA Volunteers.
Since then they have truly shown their heartfelt dedication – with always thoughtful and thorough work, in advocating for the best interests of the children they serve. So far, they have helped achieve permanency for one infant through adoption, and for two other children through reunification with their parents.
Jim and Lu are currently working on two new cases, and travel several hundred miles twice a month to see one of the children (who is living away from his home).
Not only do Jim and Lu make a great team while working their CASA cases, they also have proven to be excellent team players who work exceptionally well with others. Lu is definitely a nurturer (the children just love her), and Jim is the negotiator (always calm and open minded). They are comfortable working with children of all ages, feel that they want to help out wherever they are needed, and have always accepted the cases offered to them without question.
Texas CASA has also noticed Jim and Lu’s enthusiasm, and is using their picture on the current home page of Texas CASA.org and Become A CASA.org.
Thanks so much, Jim and Lu, for your hard work and dedication to CASA! We hope you remain in Texas and with CASA for years to come!