Monday, Apr 8, 2019
The Difference Advocacy Can Make: Jewel’s Story
Here at CASA of Adams & Broomfield Counties, our CASA Volunteers try to give hope to children while navigating the child welfare system, but they never forget the work they are doing can have benefits that last a lifetime. We had the opportunity to catch up with Jewel, former CASA Youth, who was able to give an even more in-depth look at what a difference a CASA can make in the life of a child.
Jewel can remember as young as 2 years old the abuse she and her sister suffered, both physical and emotional. She remembers her mom and dad being passed out with needles in their arms and living in the car after her father was arrested. What she doesn’t remember is feeling any hope.
“I always kind of thought when I was young ‘this is it’, I accepted my life for what it was and never really even dreamed about my future.”
At age 15, Jewel arrived home one day to her mom and sister in the bathroom, her sister’s face bloodied and beaten. Jewel tried to interfere; their mom proceeded to throw out both girls' belongings and lock them outside in the cold. When they made their way back inside, the mother then locked them both in Jewel’s room for 3 days with no food or water.
Finally, a social worker arrived with the police, and Jewel finally found the strength to tell them what was happening, saying “I had nothing to lose, I thought I was going to lose my life and thought I almost lost my sister.”
Jewel and her sister left with the case worker that same day. Jade suffered a broken eye socket and broken nose from the ordeal, and when all of them were reunited for a meeting to discuss their options, the mother made the statement in front of everyone involved that if the girls were given back to her, she would kill them.
The girls were appointed a CASA that day, and the mother’s parental rights were terminated 3 days later. It was then they were placed into foster care. Charlene Campbell, the CASA Volunteer appointed to the girls’ case, was immediately a source of guidance and refuge for the girls.
“Charlene was always so genuine and was someone we could have a real conversation with and knew she actually cared what we had to say.”
Charlene always reminded the girls of their potential, and while they had no control over their past, they were the ones who could choose to control their futures, and always reminded them what was possible with hard work.
Jewel had just begun the process of applying to college when she was forced to move out. Her now-former foster parents stopped contact, despite her multiple attempts to get paperwork from them
for her applications. Jewel expressed her concerns to Charlene: by the end of that week, Charlene obtained the document and Jewel was back on track to enroll.
Today, Jewel is living on her own and studying philosophy and business communications. She hopes she can find a career where she can pursue her love of public speaking, a passion she discovered after speaking at multiple child welfare conferences and CASA events.
“Without CASA I would never have seen how I can share my past to prove to others anything is possible, and how I can use it as a stepping stone. CASA has shown me who I am and who I want to be.”
Charlene and Jewel are still in touch; Jewel has expressed Charlene will always be someone dear to her, and she plans on inviting her to her future wedding, baby showers and more, because she has earned her place in her life as someone who will always be there for her.
Jewel has more than proven that with the right support system and enough motivation, there is no stopping what foster youths can accomplish. We would like to thank her for sharing her story and the devotion she expresses for our program. Stories like hers are the epitome of what all of us at CASA of Adams & Broomfield Counties strive for every day and the difference we hope we can make!
Story by Alycia Mueller