Thursday, Dec 20, 2018
To be a CASA Volunteer Advocate means to take on a dedication to changing the lives of children in need. From the training to the swearing-in, the volunteer opportunity CASA provides is one that individuals sometimes wonder if they can commit enough of themselves to and if they can make a difference. Erika Sell, a mother of two and full-time marketing specialist, proves anyone can make a difference and makes the time in her busy life to impact a child as a CASA Volunteer. We are pleased to recognize Erika as our January Advocate of the Month.
Erika is a California native who came to Colorado in 2006 to attend the University of Northern Colorado. After falling in love with Colorado, she decided to stay after college and found a career in marketing for Academy Roofing, where she has been working for six years. She and her husband have two sons, ages 9 and 12, and it is her motherly instincts that she credits for feeling a deep connection to the work of advocating for children in need of a voice. After finding out about CASA through a friend of a friend who was sworn in, she researched the CASA program more in-depth and realized this was a volunteer opportunity where she could make a positive impact on the life of a child.
While she was just sworn this past August, Erika immediately showed her enthusiasm and dedication to her role as a Volunteer Advocate and took a case right away. Her case involves a little girl who was removed from her home because of the choices her mother was making that put her child in danger. Erika thought she could be a good advocate for this little girl, relating to her in a way that past female role models did for Erika. Since taking the case, she has diligently visited this little girl twice a month, always bringing activities, arts and crafts, and more to do with her. Erika has found doing these kinds of hands-on tasks with the little girl often helps her to relax and tackle the hard conversations that sometimes come about.
Unfortunately, because the mom has refused to cutoff connections with a person who put the little girl’s safety at risk, the court will not allow her to be around her daughter. This has forced the professionals on the case to move forward with finding the girl a permanent placement elsewhere. Thankfully, both the girl’s uncle and her father, who live out-of-state, have expressed interest in taking her in permanently.
Since this is a special case in that both prospective placements live out-of-state, Erika has taken on contacting her uncle and father via phone as often as she can. She wants to make sure the judge is hearing about the girl and her family members’ situations with as much information as possible, in hopes she can move in with one of them as the case progresses and find her forever home.
Garrett, Erika’s Senior Program Coordinator, was adamant about how diligent Erika has been through her case and how impressed he was that she jumped into her first case with such fervor and professionalism. “She has always been on top of her reports and doing all she can to make sure she is involved in the case and with her kid. It is impressive to see and much appreciated by our program,” Garrett said.
Erika noted more than once that while the training seems intensive from the outside, once you are on your case it is not nearly as overwhelming as some people might think. “At first you wonder, ‘Can I do this? Can I really make a difference to this child?’ And the answer I see now is yes, absolutely, anyone can do this. You just have to go for it!”
Our program is lucky to have a Volunteer Advocate like Erika. We want to congratulate her and thank her for her hard work – welcome to the CASA family!