Joy has been a volunteer since April 2016 and is on her second case. Each time she has chosen to take on cases working with an infant. Some may think or say, “why would an infant need a CASA?” The reality is these babies are truly dependent on an adult and have no speech at all to voice their best interest. Joy’s cases have had difficult aspects to each of them. Joy has navigated these difficulties with a sound objective mind, thoroughly thinking of the whole situation, remaining professional and patient along the way. Joy is lovely to work with and we appreciate her greatly!

Here are a few words from Joy: “I moved to Columbia with my husband in 1972 so he could attend the University of Missouri. We made our home here and raised three children. I have worked for the University since 1973 in various departments. I retired from the School of Law in 2016, and continue to work part time. Several years before retiring I heard a request on KBIA for CASA volunteers and made the decision to become a CASA. It has been one of the most rewarding commitments of my life. When not working at the School of Law or actively volunteering for a CASA child, I enjoy making special memories with my 5 grandchildren, traveling, volunteer knitting and knitting special gifts for family and friends.

Christa was sworn in on October 11, 2016 and began her first case on February 6, 2017. Christa is still on her first case which is getting close to adoption. Christa shared a few words about herself:

“I became a CASA because God put a tugging in my heart for the children in foster care. I have several friends that foster and have adopted. I knew that my gifts weren’t to foster or even adopt, but my heart was heavy for kids in foster care.  Suzanne came to my church and explained what a CASA was and I knew immediately this is what God wanted me to do!

As a CASA I have been mightily blessed to help the children in my case to move toward permanency in their lives.  I have gained a lot of insight into the foster care system and how it works and how CASAs can help in that system.   As a CASA I have received a lot of training on childhood trauma and how it affects people in their future as adults. I hope that my work as a CASA can help children have healthy outcomes after being in the system.

I am engaged and plan to get married in May to Eric Edwards. I have a son, Adam, age 18 and a daughter, Brooklynn, age 15.  Eric has 3 adult daughters, Erica, Ashley, and Allison and 2 grandsons, Teddy and Emmerson.  We have two dogs, Pepper and Earl and one cat, Eddie. Our family enjoys being outside and loves anything to do with nature.”

HOM CASA is lucky to have Christa as an advocate! We appreciate her hard work and for being a strong voice for her kids! Thank you, Christa!!

When she’s not spoiling her grandchildren or working, you can find Sue volunteering her valued time advocating for her adorable CASA child!

Sue swore in during May of 2018 and has been serving on her case for over a year and a half. Sue is the perfect match for her sweet, energetic CASA kiddo. They quickly formed a bond and Sue has been able to visit her child every month and attend all of her meetings and court hearings. Rain, shine, or in this case a snow storm, Sue always shows up. We are so thankful to have Sue as a part of Heart of Missouri CASA and we truly appreciate the difference she is making for the child she serves and for our community.

Here’s what Sue has to say about volunteering with CASA: “I became a CASA volunteer because I wanted to give a voice and be of service to our most vulnerable children who find themselves in foster care as a result of abuse, neglect, abandonment. Often these children are without a voice in a frightening and confusing legal system. We speak for them and express their wishes to the judge in all Court matters.

Sometimes a CASA volunteer is the only consistent, stable, caring and positive person in their lives…and their lives matter. What we give them now could make a lifelong difference on who they become as adults.”

She received her case on May 25, 2017 and continues to advocate for the same child today.  Here are a few words from Kayla:

“I own my own pet sitting business and spend most of my weekends and evenings taking care of everything from dogs and cats to birds and guinea pigs. I just started law school at the University of Missouri this August, and time is already flying. Any free time I have is usually spent on a trail in the middle of nowhere with my trusty four-legged sidekick, Milo. I hope to one day become a federal law enforcement officer and/or prosecuting attorney focused on crimes against children. My long term dream job is working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help reunite families or find answers and closure for others.

I volunteer with CASA because helping children has always been close to my heart. As an adopted kid myself, I know first-hand the incredible difference a strong team and the right adopters can make in a kid’s life. (I don’t know where I’d be without my amazing foster parents and social worker(s), not to mention my parents!)

I signed up with CASA the morning of my 21st birthday after meeting a CASA at an involvement fair during my freshman year of undergrad at Stephens. I’ve been on the same case for that entire time period, making it about two years now, and my kiddo has been in the system for a little over six years. The Extreme Recruitment Team has helped us breathe life back into the case, but unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a permanent placement (yet!). Regardless, my kiddo has been making fantastic progress and really growing as a person, which has been a blessing to watch over the past few years. I’m grateful to Heart of Missouri CASA for allowing me to make a difference in a child’s life and my own community while I grind out these degrees!”

We are grateful for you, Kayla, and your dedication and commitment to being the voice for your child. You have really made a difference in his life. Thank you Kayla!

Cynthia swore-in November 2018 and has been on her first case advocating for 3 children since January 2019.  She has navigated working with a large team and dealing with the sometimes difficult dynamics of having 3 children on a case, where there can be longer court reports and many details to keep track of.  She is professional in all her interactions with the team members, while making sure the best interests of the children are heard. She consistently visits the kids, making sure they know they matter.

From Cynthia, “I have worked with children most of my adult life, and my retirement from teaching a few years ago left a hole in my world. I knew about CASA and had planned to make it  my main post-retirement activity, but when it came time to sign up for training, I chickened out. One day my daughter called from Seattle with a simple message, “Mom, you should be a CASA.  They need people like you.” She and her husband were eight months into their new role as foster parents and felt fortunate to have been assigned a CASA. My daughter also knew that I had previous, positive experience with foster care, as my own two brothers were adopted through the system. I made the leap and have not looked back. The children in my case are beautiful and remarkable, and I have been humbled by how hard the people involved work– both families and professionals– to make things better.  It feels good to be part of something this important.”

Thank you Cynthia! We appreciate you greatly!

Gary has been a CASA volunteer for 2 years. He has been on the same case for those two years. Gary has been dedicated to Heart of Missouri CASA  since he became an advocate. Gary has been the one constant in his child’s life and this has shown through when it comes to pivotal decisions with the case. Gary is a tremendous asset to Heart of Missouri CASA and we want to thank him for helping give children a voice.

Gary is a very humble man. He has a wife of almost 50 wonderful years and two biological children. Gary’s kindness goes back to taking in a foster child that lived with them for several years. This child remains apart of the family and she is considered their daughter to this day. Gary is a proud grandparent of 7 grandchildren. Gary retired as the Director of Student Life from the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton, Missouri. After his retirement, he continued substitute teaching at the Missouri School for the Deaf for 5 years. Gary has been on the board of Heartland Church for over 30 years. Gary’s daughter, Christina, summarized her father as “always had a heart for helping people.” Gary and his wife continue to help those in need by offering any kind of assistance they can. Gary enjoys his farm and tending to the animals and home that he built for his family.

Jen is a loving wife and mother of 5. Her passion for our community’s most vulnerable children is evident in the time, energy, and heart that she pours into being a CASA.

Jen swore in during February of 2018 and has remained a consistent, stable adult for her 3 CASA kiddos. She has taken the time to see her children in a variety of settings such as school, home, sibling visits, extracurricular activities and going shopping! As all CASA volunteers know, cases can go through many changes that can cause emotions to run high. Though Jen has faced some really tough situations as a CASA, her dedication and commitment has never wavered. We are so thankful for her and the impact she makes!

Here’s why Jen volunteers: “I became interested in volunteering with CASA as a way to start getting involved with the foster care system. My hope is that this is the beginning of a lifetime of involvement and opens doors and opportunities to do even more. I enjoy knowing that I am one small piece in the larger picture of establishing safety, security and love in the lives of children in Boone County.”

Mary became a CASA volunteer in May of 2016 and is currently on her second case. Her current case has a couple of siblings who are in different placements and attend different schools. Mary is consistent with her visits and persistent in advocating for what she believes is in the best interest of the kids. One of Mary’s many strengths is her ability to always make the parents feel welcome and heard at FST meetings and during home and school visits.

Here are a few words from Mary about why she wanted to get involved as a CASA volunteer: “I became a CASA volunteer after I retired from working for the State of Missouri. I am very fortunate to have the time now to devote to CASA activities. One of the reasons I volunteered with CASA is after I retired, I wanted to get involved with children and families at a level where I felt I could really make a difference in their lives. One of the greatest benefits for me as a CASA is that I have learned so much about my community, the systems that some families must navigate and what living in Columbia is like for struggling families. It has also pushed me out of my comfort zone to do things I never have done before. My CASA children are always teaching me new things! It’s always a learning experience. I have learned to look for strengths instead of just the difficulties. I feel that the longer I serve as a CASA, the better I’m able to serve the children. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged if you feel you’re not doing enough or if the current situation seems stalled, but the CASA staff are so encouraging and supportive in helping see the big picture.”

“I have lived in Columbia since graduating from the University. My husband and I have a daughter and one-year granddaughter in Nashville, so we like to travel there as often as we can. Other activities I also enjoy are my Book Club, volunteering at Church, Zumba and dancing.”

Thank you, Mary, for being such a strong voice for your CASA kids and for helping the parents advocate for themselves as well.

Here are a few words from Janet Baker, our volunteer of the month! “I became a CASA for many reasons, but the main reasons are: 1. I love children, 2. my daughter is a foster mother and I see the issues her kids face and 3. I was adopted out of foster care when I was 2 years old.

My name is Janet Baker and I’m a single mother of three grown children; my daughter and 2 sons and am blessed with 4 grandchildren, 1 girl and 3 boys; two of these wonderful grandchildren will be adopted by my daughter out of foster care within the next month.  I also have a foreign exchange student that lived with my family for a year whom I lovingly call my daughter from Puebla Mexico and she and her husband will be giving me yet another grandson any day now.

I, along with my biological brother, were raised on a farm where we had dairy cows, row crops and a huge garden.  I am so grateful to my parents for giving me such a wonderful life.”

We appreciate Janet for her continued efforts of child advocacy on her case and her big heart for children. Thank you Janet!!

Lisa swore-in during May of 2018 and is on her first case. Lisa’s dedication to her three CASA children/youth is truly inspirational as she has driven over 3,800 miles to visit her kids. She has visited them in various placements, attended school events, and celebrated their birthdays with them. This has been a complex case, and Lisa has persevered during times of adversity with the team.

Lisa was born on Mars (Street) and comes from Mexico (MO). She is the mother of 4 brilliant adults. Lisa has had every job from car salesperson to teacher to radio movie critic, but considers herself a professional volunteer.

When Lisa saw the TV ad for CASA, she recognized it as a perfect fit for her desire to give back, in a significant way, to the world which has shown her such awe-inspiring opportunities. Lisa feels “it is the least she can do”.

In her free time, Lisa likes to read, garden, and hone her vocabulary.

Callaway County is lucky to have Lisa as a volunteer and appreciates the many hours she gives to this family.

Even with working full time and having a family of her own, Milly finds time to make an impact on her community.

Milly swore-in during October of 2016 and is on her second case. Milly’s dedication to her CASA child is truly inspirational. Last year, she drove over 1,000 miles to visit her child. From attending therapeutic horseback riding lessons to seeing a movie at the movie theater, she has seen her child in many different settings. They’ve developed a close bond and love to laugh and chat together. In addition, Milly has secured over $1,000 in grant funding for HOM CASA through her employer!

Here’s why Milly volunteers: “I’ve always heard people say how bad the foster care system is and how so many kids slip through the cracks, unnoticed & unheard. Becoming a CASA was a chance to do something positive for the foster care system and a kid that needs an anchor when they feel like they are drowning. I have been able to build a relationship with my kiddo and ensure all the changes in her case, her life, are what’s best for her.

The anchor is what holds the ship in rough waters.  Be the anchor for a child’s life when all they’ve known has suddenly changed and they are in rough waters.”

Nikki has been an advocate to a young boy in her first case since May 2016. From the beginning, she made sure he knew she was his voice to the team and court. Nikki has advocated for many positive changes in his life including getting him into Extreme Recruitment. An uncle in Washington, DC was found and he is currently going through the steps towards a possible adoption.

From Nikki: “When I learned about CASA from an encouraging friend, I immediately knew in my soul that I needed to volunteer.  I remember sitting in the courtroom as a child feeling no one was on my side. Being a CASA is extremely meaningful to me, it not only gives a voice and consistent, loving support to a child in desperate need of a reliable person in their life, it heals a little wounded piece of my heart; I hope it heals a little piece of theirs, as well.  Peace and joy are things I strive to keep in my core, as there is too little time in life for negativity or hate.  I adore time spent with family, art, music, food, and being active in all kinds of things; I’ll try anything once. My husband, Shon, and I were high school sweethearts, we have two awesome sons, Austin and Isaac. We’ve been blessed with a goddaughter, Mai, from Egypt and a darling daughter-in-law, Laura.  As a HS teacher, I have many more children for whom I advocate and love.  I hope all of my children will learn to value and love others and pass it on, as we all do our part to make the world a better place.”

Nikki’s Team values her recommendations and she has made a tremendous impact in her CASA kid’s life. Thank you Nikki! We are incredibly thankful for your dedication and consistency.  We’re lucky to have you!

HOM CASA is lucky to have Christa as an advocate! We appreciate her hard work and for being a strong voice for her kids! Thank you, Christa!!

“When we first moved back to Missouri, I wanted to find a place to volunteer; I was also contemplating a social work graduate program. At a work lunch, my husband heard about CASA: a perfect melding of my desire to volunteer and interest in social work. Shortly after, we received tickets to Justice is Served where I was able to hear impact stories from children who have CASAs and speak with several CASA volunteers. I knew this was where I was meant to be; I wanted to be there when others are not and help children through such hard times in their lives. I registered for volunteer training the next day. When I was offered my first case, with three children, I nervously accepted.  We began our journey that following week and, through all the ups and downs, I could not be happier with my decision because they needed someone and that someone was me.”

Krista has been advocating for 3 children for the past year. She has proven to be a strong advocate for these kids, which has not been an easy task with the family dynamics. Krista has kept her objectivity, spoken up on the children’s behalf when needed and remained consistent in these children’s lives. Thank you Krista; you are greatly appreciated!

Kelly has been a CASA volunteer for 2 years. She has had 3 cases total and served a total of 6 children. Kelly has been dedicated to Heart of Missouri CASA  since she became an advocate. This has shown through Kelly’s passion of helping all the children she has advocated for in Callaway County. Kelly is valuable asset to Heart of Missouri CASA and we want to thank her for helping give children a voice.

Here are a few words from Kelly:

“I became a CASA because my eyes were opened to the need when a family at church was trying to adopt their foster kids. Two of the children did not have a CASA and the baby did. The parents explained to us that the process with a CASA went much more smoothly and more swiftly. They educated people at our church about the lack of CASAs and the real need for them. This really touched my heart and I knew it was a way I could make the difference in the lives of children. There are too many children in foster care but each one of them deserves a voice. I have had 3 cases serving 6 children in two years.

I am married to Tim Borman, an Investment representative at the Callaway Bank in Fulton, and have 3 adult children and 3 dogs. I am a former elementary teacher in Columbia and North Callaway and love kids! Currently I volunteer in several capacities with the Callaway Chamber of Commerce, the Brick District Playhouse and the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society. I encourage anyone who has the capacity to love and advocate for children to become a CASA.”

Cindy’s giving, compassionate heart has made an impact all across Columbia. When she’s not spending time with her CASA kiddo, you can find her tutoring English or hitting the gym!

Cindy swore in during February of 2016 and is on her third case! Though she has had cases with many different aspects, she has been able to effectively advocate and build a relationship with each of the kids that she has served. Cindy always works hard on her court reports and makes fact-based recommendations. In fact, when she turned in her most recent report, the caseworker said “That was the best CASA report I’ve seen written.”

Here’s what Cindy has to say about why she volunteers with CASA: “I first learned of CASA a few years ago when my daughter was a Theta at Mizzou, and she was my inspiration to become involved.  Having recently started my third case, I have seen the need, up close and personal, for these kids to have a consistent presence in their life who will stick with them through a very challenging time.”

Cindy’s hard work and dedication are truly invaluable and we are so thankful for her!

Jane received her first case in March of 2012 and is currently on her fourth case.

A few words from Jane, “I became a CASA when I became an empty nester. I graduated from MU in 1986 with a degree in Child and Family Development. Before my children were born, I was a preschool teacher. I have felt in each case I helped my CASA children in their situations. I find the Continuing Education programs offered interesting and helpful in my work with the children and the court system. I really believe in the CASA program and that is why Tom and I help financially as well.  I am very fortunate to have the desire and time to be a CASA.”

So far, Jane has advocated for 6 children which resulted in two reunifications and one guardianship. One of her many strengths is her ability to build relationships with the members of her team, parents and foster families. Jane is very active in the community, also volunteering substantial time with The Assistance League of Mid-Missouri. We are incredibly thankful for Jane’s hard work and consistency on her cases, and also her generosity in supporting our program! Thank you Jane. We’re lucky to have you!

A few words from our volunteer spotlight Candida Rogers, “About ten years ago, I saw a notice in the newspaper under “Volunteer Opportunities” about CASA and thought it would be something I would like to do.  However, my work as an ER nurse, lastly at Women’ and Children’s Hospital, meant variable workdays and shifts so I could not commit.  The month I retired, I started the class to be a CASA.  In a few months, I began to serve a three sibling family that had had an unfair share of troubles in their young lives.  Today, two of those children remain in foster/residential care.  Thankfully, their elder sister went into a wonderful foster home and is today a student at a local college.

Over the years, I think the most important thing I have been able to offer these children is being a consistent, no drama, adult presence in their lives.  I cannot change their developmental difficulties, nor their living circumstances, but I can show up for visits no matter where they are, keep in communication with them, share meals, walk and talk together. I try to convey to the FST and the court what the children say they want and need as well as what I see and hear in the places they live.  My hope is that each teen gains some of the tools to have healthy, productive, adult lives.”

For the past 5 years, Candida has advocated for the children on her case in different areas in regards to their school, placements, and mental health; giving the team information in regards to the children’s wishes.

There are many words to describe Candida: courageous, adaptable, understanding, compassionate, persistent, diligent and ambitious, the list goes on. I (Leslie) am grateful for each one of these characteristics. Thank you Candida for your consistency and advocacy over the years on your case.

Linda and her husband, Trent, began their first case in July 2013. They were a great support to the foster family with their consistent visits to two young boys. Due to their commitment and loving relationship, the boys were adopted by the same foster family in late 2016. When asked if she would take another case in March 2017, Linda willingly agreed. She worked hard to establish a positive relationship with two challenging teenagers. While one has aged out, Linda has worked diligently securing guardianship for the other teenager. Without her persistance in getting paperwork completed, this guardianship would have stalled out. Thank you Linda for your perserverance and willingness to go the extra mile.

A few words from Linda: “I was a child who suffered abuse and neglect while growing up, yet my heart’s desire was to be a wife and mother when I grew up. My husband, Trent and I have had the privilege and responsibility of raising three wonderful children; two sons and a daughter, who are all now married and either have children or are expecting a child very soon. One thing that stood out to me, even as a child, was that children do not choose to be born and do not have anything to do with getting here and that parents are responsible to care for them, love them and teach them. Trent and I wanted to raise kind and loving, hardworking kids who would love God and others. These three children were our passion and our ministry –“training up a child in the way he should go”. When they were all out of the home and on their own, we wanted and needed a way to be able to serve and help others. We tried working with the elderly for a while, but while at SERVE one day they recommended CASA to Trent to have the opportunity to help children who needed to have a voice! For me it was exciting as well as scary because I was still “that kid” and could relate to these children to at least to some degree. Our first case was with such a wonderful first-time foster family and two awesome boys! Both the foster family and Trent and I learned so much while working together to bring permanency for those two boys who they adopted! While we were still on our first case our first granddaughter was born and since then have three more precious grandchildren with one more due in October! Trent and I enjoy spending time with our grandchildren very much and get to see them every week so that their parents can have some time for themselves. I also enjoy gardening, knitting and crocheting, cooking, reading and going for motorcycle rides with my husband.

So, it turns out that being a part of helping children and has helped me probably more than I helped them. While on this journey I have come full circle and because of what I have learned from different speakers, the children and books I realized that I had not faced the abuse and neglect of my childhood and I am now able to stop running and hiding in constant fear and becoming the woman God intended for me to be. My current case has sexual abuse, verbal abuse, neglect and physical abuse. I was VERY hesitant to take another case, especially because of the sexual abuse. It was getting kind of close to home and I had been running a very long time! But somehow, I did it anyway, and am seeing two more children realize that they are valued, heard and cared for. That two people are willing to sacrifice just about anything and everything for children they did not even give birth to without really “getting anything in return” is so remarkable, honorable and astounding!!! I have incredible awe for our foster families we work with. It is a joy and a privilege to help a child have a voice and be a part of seeing their lives change for the better.”

Linda was one of the very first advocates to join the Callaway County program in 2013! Heart of Missouri CASA would like to thank Linda for sharing her story and for the many hours spent advocating for these children in Callaway County!

From yoga class to her successful career, Cynthia is a busy woman! However, she faithfully makes time to visit with and advocate for our community’s most vulnerable children.

Cynthia swore in during November 2015 and is on her second case. Cynthia is a consistent, stable person in a life of many changing adults for the children on her case. She always pays close attention to the details during home visits and always communicates her observations to the team. Cynthia’s strong advocacy and caring heart are so valuable to her work as a CASA volunteer. She has a heart for our mission and is not afraid to take a stand when changes need to be made to keep children safe.

Here’s what Cynthia has to say about her time as a CASA Volunteer: “I really love being a CASA.  I get to make sure each child knows that they matter.  I tell them that what they feel or think is important and it is my job to make sure the judge knows what they want.  It is a great feeling to get to advocate for a child and know that I am making a difference.”

Thank you, Cynthia, for the difference you are making for our community!

Lincoln Sheets began volunteering for CASA in August of 2015 and in January of this year received his second case. In his first case, Lincoln was assigned a brother and sister who were placed in the St Louis area in different facilities. He diligently advocated for them which resulted in reunification with their parents.  He not only built a relationship with the kids and parents, but with his team as well.  

A little background from Lincoln: “I am a physician and medical researcher who serves as Director of Health Informatics for the School of Medicine at the University of Missouri. After college, I enjoyed a brief career in professional ballet, then worked for 20 years in software engineering before entering medical school and my current career.

As a medical student, I organized medical missions in Africa and Latin America, and helped create a student-run free clinic in Columbia, Missouri. In addition to my faculty position at Mizzou Med, I live and serve full-time at St. Francis House, a Catholic Worker community that provides shelter and hospitality to the homeless residents of Columbia. I am an active member of the Friends (Quaker) Meeting.

My free-time interests include dance, triathlon, movies, mountaineering, travel, languages, martial arts, and spending time with family at home in Columbia and in my hometown of Springfield, Missouri.

I wanted to be a CASA in order to help the kids and their families who must navigate the complexities of our legal system. In my first three years as a CASA, I’ve learned that patient listening and encouragement are probably the most valuable help I can give.”

When Lincoln was ready to take a second case, he chose two brothers who were placed in two different residential facilities, one in St. James and one in Kansas City.  

All together, Lincoln has traveled 3,776 miles to visit kids who were placed outside of Boone County and away from family who could not visit them.

Heart of Missouri CASA would like to thank you Lincoln for all the many hours and miles you have spent being the voice and familiar face to your kids!

A few words from Nick: “I became an advocate because of the great need for CASAs and because of a strong desire to honor God and love my neighbors as myself by being a servant in our community. As a CASA I have learned a great deal. One thing that really stands out, though, is the eye-opening reminder of the tragedy of brokenness in our world, particularly in families and relationships. This tragedy has made me more aware of the need for more and more people to invest in the lives of others.

My wife (Marsha) and I have been married for 16 years, and we have five children. Our two youngest (Zoe from Ethiopia and Micah from China) are adopted. People can read more about our adoption journey at our family website (DrakeCity.com) As a family, we love traveling together, spending time outside together, playing sports, and serving together with our local church family, Richland Baptist Church, where I have served as pastor for nearly five years.”

Nick has been on one case since July 2015. His case actually closed in August 2016 with reunification but sadly the child immediately came back into care. Nick has been dedicated to advocating for the best interest of this child even though others on the team were opposed to his suggestions several times. Through this adversity, Nick was able to help this child achieve permanency through guardianship with a wonderful family.  Heart of Missouri CASA would like to thank Nick for his dedication and many hours spent advocating for this child in Callaway County!

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