Friday, Apr 7, 2017
Bob Feldman became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) because he wanted to help a child in foster care have a better life. Eight years later, he’s still having an impact as a volunteer CASA and Mentor to other CASAs.
Advocating for a Teen
Bob first met Odi, a shy, quiet foster youth when Odi was barely getting by in high school. He was struggling in math and his other grades were poor.
“Odi was smart but he needed more one-on-one help so I encouraged him to enroll in the G-Plus program because it provided a better student-to-teacher ratio,” Bob explains.
What a difference! Under more supervision and help, Odi excelled. In December of his senior year, he was named “Student of the Month.” Even better, Odi graduated high school on time.
Upon graduation, Bob quickly encouraged Odi to apply to community college.
“The more I got to know Odi, the more I understood what his dreams and goals for a better life were. I wanted to be there for him to help guide his efforts,” Bob explains.
Odi has been attending Evergreen Community College for 2 ½ years. During this time, he has worked in three different jobs: as a clerical assistant in the EVC Student Services office, in a local sandwich shop, and at UPS. In March 2017, he entered the “Year-Up Program,” which combines hands-on skills development, courses eligible for college credit, and corporate internships to prepare students for success in professional careers and higher education. Odi is working hard to make his dreams come true.
“Having a CASA is like having your personal life tutor. They are always there for you when you need them,” explains Odi.
Odi continues to live with his foster family that he stayed with when he was 18, but now he pays rent. Most recently, Bob advised Odi during his purchase of a used car and helped him get it insured.
“He’s taking control of his life and making good decisions,” Bob says. “I’m very proud of him.”
Mentoring Other CASAs
In addition to being a CASA for six years, Bob is a Mentor to four other CASA volunteers. Mentors are experienced CASAs who guide other CASA volunteers with their cases. As a mentor, Bob answers a variety of questions volunteers have about their advocate child and helps them with their monthly court reports. He reports to a staff Specialist who oversees his volunteer work.
“I enjoy working with other volunteers. It’s a different way to give back and help the agency scale to serve more foster children,” Bob says. “Child Advocates does amazing work. I’m just glad to be involved and know that what I do has a positive impact on a foster child’s life.”