Nan Stites,CASA Volunteer
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates volunteer. By definition a CASA volunteer reviews documents and records pertaining to a child's case. They interview adult family members as well as other adults in the child's life. Volunteers advocate for the child in court and provide written reports for court hearing.
CASA programs are the only volunteer organization directly connected to the court; volunteers are appointed and sworn in by a judge to speak for a child who would otherwise not be heard. As adults come and go in the lives of abused and neglected children, these children desperately need one adult to stay with them for the length of their court case–someone who develops knowledge of the child’s particular needs and may prevent a child from falling through the cracks of the system. This is what a CASA volunteer does.
The local CASA organization recently spotlighted Sallisaw CASA volunteer, Nan Stites. According to the organization, giving back seems to be second nature to Nan Stites. As a volunteer with the PTO, CHIO, PEO, Chamber of Commerce, church, and many other local agencies, Nan had plenty to do to keep her busy, but she wanted to do more. Nan completed the CASA training and became a volunteer advocate in June 2016. In her time as a CASA, Nan has served 8 children on 4 separate cases. got a chance to ask Nan a few questions about herself and her experiences as a CASA volunteer. Here is what she had to say.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I was raised in Stillwell, Oklahoma. After high school I headed to college at OSU and went on to graduate from MSU. I have three kids, one of which is still in high school, and five of the cutest and smartest grandkids around. I am a retired school teacher. I taught at Fort Gibson Schools until my retirement, when I moved to Sequoyah County with my husband, Tom.
What is it like to be a CASA volunteer?
Volunteering with CASA is the most worthy thing I am involved in (other than parenting and grand-parenting). Volunteering with CASA is so very rewarding. All cases may not end the way I would like, but I know that I always make a difference for the better.
What surprised you the most about being a volunteer?
The biggest surprise has been learning just how much it means to the children to be visited consistently for as long as needed. I've heard, "You're my friend.", "I remember you.", "You've visited me for a long time.", and "I love you!"
Have you had any cases that really stuck out to you?
I worked with one family where the parents had a serious drug problem for years. Local agencies provided wonderful support and assisted the parents in kicking their habit and getting their kids back. I still run into them with their jobs. I'm so proud of them as parents, employees, and community members. Foster families are the unsung heroes in our community. They help the children and the parents recover from problems many of us cannot imagine.
How have the children you have worked with impacted your life?
My eyes always puddle up when I think back to those sweet voices. All my cases and children have become memories - forever etched in my mind. I did make a difference in their lives.
What is the most gratifying experience you've had as a volunteer?
I love CASA, not for what I do for the families in our community, but for what it does for me! I belong to a group that has grown me into a better person. A group that has given me positive experiences and friendships that I will never forget.
What would you tell someone considering becoming a CASA volunteer?
JUST DO IT! "I am a CASA because I care. I am imperfect, but God can still use my heart for kids and parents that are hurting. Some people tell me they couldn't or wouldn't do this because they would be heartbroken for some families and would continue to think about those children. I say, as you think about them, you pray for them. What a legacy!
KXMX News Staff
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