Former child protective service contract counselor Rebecca Carlton knows how the foster care system is difficult for young children. She knows the kids who talk on a CASA volunteer recruitment tape represent the same kind of abuse and neglect found in Nacogdoches County. Alonza on the tape said, "All of a sudden this woman comes out of the house and stabs me in the back four times. After that I don't remember anything and just blacked out." Pamela from the tape said, "When you're young, no one listens to you, they really don't, especially in the foster care system." Carlton also knows casa brings positive results. "The best interest of children will be served with CASA volunteers and this program," said Carlton who was recently hired as the new chapter's executive director.
Carlton is determined to recruit volunteers who want to standup for abused and neglected children. She's looking for, "People who are going to be making differences in children's lives and if you're interested in learning these things than that's one of the tendencies they found with casa volunteers is they do have an overwhelming interest in serving children."
Carlton is working closely with CASA board president Claudia Whitley. The retired principal will always remember a casa who helped one of her students through multiple foster home moves. She knew then Nacogdoches County needed such a program. Whitley said, "One of the most important things for them to understand is that you don't have to be an expert to be a volunteer. There is a very thorough training program that goes along to teach you how to be a good volunteer and then our director is here to help you along the way."
The program's first volunteer is Geri Thompson. She knew CASA was a volunteer program she wanted to be a part of. "I just felt very passionate that the children needed a voice. The children needed a grown up person that can help make good decisions on their part. And hopefully we can influence their lives in a positive manner."
Carlton and Thompson are now in training with Angelina County's CASA. They're hoping there will be enough volunteers to have a Nacogdoches training program in October.
There are more than 90 children in the system needing a CASA to help them fulfill their dreams. Pamela graduated from a four year college. She said, "To give a child a casa is to give them a voice and to give them a voice is to give them hope and to give them hope is to give them the world."