Thursday, Oct 15, 2020
October Advocate of the Month
Karla is originally from Texas and heard of CASA in her previous work at a residential treatment center. Watching from an outside point of view, she saw the impact a CASA Volunteer made on the youth she worked with.
“I would always see how excited the kids got when their CASA came and thought ‘I need to make that level of impact.’”
Karla moved to Colorado and took her first case almost a year ago, deciding to work with a pregnant teen who had traveled from Central America and had been placed in an immigration facility. She gave birth shortly after and, as her baby got their own CASA, a case was opened for the young mom as well. After almost 9 months in the immigration facility their legal teams were able to get them moved into a foster placement as they continued their efforts to grant her citizenship and remain in the United States. Soon after, however, the teen began to share concerns about her foster placement to Karla.
“Culturally she connected with me, and she knew I understood the importance of her culture, where her foster family unfortunately did not.” The foster family would not allow her cook and she was never able to obtain her traditional foods. Between this and not having any family around, her connection her culture was cut off, something that troubled the teen greatly among other concerns. Karla helped to relay this all to her legal team and she was able to get into a new placement. Now, the teen claims to be much happier, and cooks often for her foster family and shares meals with them, which made a huge difference to make her feel less alienated. Being bilingual herself, Karla has proved to be another crucial outlet for the teen to connect with, and the youth reaches out daily to Karla whether it is to talk about her feelings, her needs, and perhaps most important of all, her hopes for the future.
“Because she doesn’t have mentors or anyone here that she can depend on or knows what’s next she really confides with me. I’ve talked a lot to her about her goals. When I first met her there was no sign of hope or thinking she had options.”
With Karla to help open up her perspective, she finally began to move past what Karla called a “rigid” mentality where, to her, being a young mom was the only thought on her horizon. Karla helped to make her a vision board, and connected her with a life coach, and the teen now thinks often about what she wants as a career.
“That was a big step, to just see her know ‘I do have options’, and ‘yes I can go to school’.”
Senior Program Coordinator Feliz Sanchez Garcia remarks “Karla’s case is a great example of why Latinx and Hispanic volunteers are so vital. They not only bridge language barriers but cultural barriers as well. Karla has done an amazing job in bridging this gap and has played an integral role on this case.”
We thank Karla for the impact she has made on this youth’s life and for providing a wonderful example of our value in and need for more Latinx and Hispanic Volunteers. Congratulations for being our October Volunteer of the Month!