It takes a village

by | Jun 14, 2024 | News

A tentative trip

My fellow CASA staff members know that I am always eager to take a field trip. One exciting part about my job at CASA of Kent County is networking with the community. From grabbing coffee with a donor to volunteering as a team with United Way to attending another organization’s fundraiser–I am usually eager to participate.

However, when Stephanie, CASA’s executive director and my supervisor, asked me to attend the Child Abuse Prevention Day rally at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, I was hesitant. I was knee-deep in last-minute luncheon logistics. (If you’ve ever had to make place cards for 380 guests, you understand my dilemma.) At the last minute, I decided I could make time for the rally. I made the trek to Lansing on a Thursday morning with the belief that this three-hour detour from my workday would be a worthwhile endeavor. Spoiler alert: I was right.

Back to the beginning

To fully explain my experience at the CAP Day rally, I need to quickly rewind and share some backstory. The first CASA luncheon I attended was in 2022, shortly before I started as a staff member. I remember that a central theme from that event was the sentiment that raising children takes a village. In the months following, I continued to echo that messaging through several channels of organizational communications. Social media captions, stories, and letters to donors all expressed appreciation for “the CASA village” and emphasized that “child abuse and neglect are community problems that require a community-centered solution.” These themes that moved me as a first-time luncheon guest continue to stand as pillars of the message I share as a staff member.

Flash forward to April 23, 2024. It shouldn’t have been surprising to me, standing among other child welfare professionals and advocates, to hear the phrase “a voice for vulnerable children in our communities,” yet I was struck by our shared mission. The speeches I heard from the director of Children Trust Michigan and the other organizations sounded like content I would share on the CASA blog or something Stephanie would say during the program at a CASA event. Two parents–clients and partners of the organizations featured at the rally–bravely shared their journeys to become better parents to their children. Again, I was struck by the similarities to family court cases in Kent County.

It takes a village

Child welfare is an overwhelming field. Even in my supporting work, adjacent to cases and safely tucked away in my office, I am often moved to tears by the situations that children and families are facing. Gathered with passionate folks from across the state of Michigan, I witnessed a powerful reminder that we are not alone. CASA of Kent County is fortunate to be a part of a strong network of other CASA programs and to be supported by Michigan CASA.

As I stood among my peers as we walked in procession down the street and placed blue pinwheels together to form a garden, I felt what it means to be part of a village. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to attend this impactful event, and I’m so appreciative of the donors, volunteers, and stakeholders who continue to make CASA of Kent County’s work possible!


This story is featured in the Summer 2024 edition of CASA Connect, CASA of Kent County’s quarterly newsletter. Click here to view a pdf version of this newsletter.


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