East Texan grateful for the work of social workers with CASA of Deep East Texas

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Monday night, The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Deep East Texas, held their yearly volunteer appreciation conference.

The group speaks up for victims of child abuse and neglect.

People in attendance at the event heard a special message from Elizabeth Suarez, a girl helped through the program.

In 2010 life did not look promising for Suarez.

"She did not have any self confidence," CASA case worker Kim Pineda said. "She felt like all of this was her fault."

She came to Nacogdoches from Mexico to live with her mom. After suffering abuse from her step father, she would be put into foster care.

"You struggle a lot when there is nobody to help you understand it," Suarez said. "It's something really, really hard."

That's when Pineda would enter Suarez's life.

"I wanted her to know that her life would be so much more than the foster system one day," Pineda said.

With the support she needed, Suarez would go on to learn English and get a high school diploma.

"Now, I can speak English and I can fight for myself," Suarez said. "It was a lot of work to do. It wasn't anything easy, but it wasn't impossible. Once you have that determination of what you want. You can do whatever you want to do. "

Today, Suarez was back with those who cared, shooting a short video to highlight a success story of someone from the foster system.

"It's something really exciting to be the person who can speak for other people who may be going through the same situation that I was going through," Suarez said.

Suarez was Pineda's first case as a casa volunteer and will always hold a special place in her heart.

"The odds were against her when she came into the system, and a lot of people thought she would be nothing but a troubled child and she has done nothing but prove the system wrong," Pineda said.

Suarez is in school at Lamar University and wants to enter the criminal justice field. The video she was part of will premiere at CASA's January 2014 banquet.

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