Success Stories

Tom and Jason: Immediate Bond, Permanent Connection

Neglected, abused, and abandoned by his parents and given up on by his aunt, Jason was fending for himself in “the system.”

Jason was in the middle of his third year at a school for kids with severe emotional disturbances in San Francisco when his Advocate, Tom, entered his life.

When Tom became Jason’s Court Appointed Special Advocate in the Summer of 2008, Jason, 17 at the time, was becoming more aggressive and defiant in his group homes, at school, and in the community. While this side of Jason was very real (especially for those in positions of authority), those who knew Jason as a friend, as Tom came to know him, experienced a kind, compassionate, well-adjusted young man.

While most of the professionals in Jason’s life were aware of Jason’s two sides, Tom discovered something that no one else recognized: Jason was illiterate.

From July of 2008 to January 2009, Jason was placed in six different group homes because of his inability to trust adults and take direction. The roller coaster ride at school also persisted.

Through all of this, Tom appealed to Jason’s desire to be a good person. Tom reminded him that these behaviors were not reflective of the Jason he knew, nor the Jason that Jason wanted to be.

Jason was beginning to control his own emotions, without the benefit of medication or intensive therapy. It soon became clear to Jason that he did indeed have the power to control his emotions.

In February of 2009, Jason landed a job at a deli near his school. Within two months, Jason’s boss remarked that Jason was, by far, the best young employee he had ever had. The little victories accumulated, as Jason stabilized, and culminated in his graduation from high school in January of 2010.

Tom maintains that after he gained Jason’s trust by being a consistent presence in his life. His role was merely to listen to Jason, to be honest about how he felt about Jason’s decisions, and to hold Jason to the standards that Jason held for himself.

Just being there saved Jason’s life.

Laura and Valerie: A Foundation of Emotional Support and Trust

Valerie’s mother was aware of the severe physical abuse the children’s father was inflicting on the Valerie and her siblings and failed to intervene. The children were promptly removed from their home and placed in shelter care.

Once their father was incarcerated, the children were returned to their mother’s care while the Court monitored the family’s progress.

Shortly after, CASA volunteer Laura began meeting with the children weekly. Laura immediately noticed emotional distance between Valerie and her mother. Valerie was unwilling to engage with her mother and there was no affection between them.

It was clear the years of abuse had taken a severe toll on the most important relationship in Valerie’s life. Laura brought this ongoing issue to the attention of the social workers and the Court with a report outlining her observations and concerns.

Laura is still working on building Valerie’s self confidence, remains actively involved with the school principal and teacher, and encourages Valerie’s interest in arts and crafts.

While Laura helped the family get the professional help they desperately needed, she also became an inspiration to Valerie by giving her the overwhelmingly positive attention she desperately craved and needed.

In the past two years, Laura and Valerie have shared too many enriching outings to mention them all.

However, one quote from a Court report Laura wrote sums up the impact Laura has had on Valerie’s life, “We both have said that we wish there was more time in the week to spend together.” Luckily, they will have a lifetime.

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