Julie Bower, a recently retired elementary school principal, had a clear goal after completing a successful career - find the right match of her knowledge and skills in order to give back to the community. She was quickly drawn to the CASA mission and felt it was a natural fit.
According to Julie, the most compelling reason for her to volunteer with CASA is the kids. “There are so many children in Clarke County and the surrounding area who lack a voice and who desperately need to be heard,” said Julie, “Our investment in kids is always worth it.”
In her work, Julie has always valued the team approach. For her, the advice that each service provider brings to the table is critical to the ultimate outcome for a family. Those service providers include case managers, therapists, attorneys, etc. “It is a fairly awesome weight that rests on each of us to keep things moving in the right direction, and in a timely manner,” said Julie, who is working on her first case right now.
Julie meets almost weekly with her CASA kid at a therapeutic center in Atlanta. They chat about things that are happening in the child’s life and the progress that he is making. They talk about setbacks as well as leaps forward. As a CASA, Julie encourages him to share his joys, frustrations, and wishes. She also keeps up with key people in the child’s life in order to try to keep the puzzle pieces fitting together. “The dynamics seem to be very fragile most of the time and I remind myself daily to rally up appropriate empathy and patience,” said Julie. In this case, she sees her role to be one of liaison among the key people and to help those who are struggling at any given point to know that they are heard and understood.
Besides bringing care and encouragement to the child and liaising among the key people in the child’s life, Julie also participates in court hearings on a regular basis. “This has been quite a learning experience and I have developed a high level of respect for Judge Robin Shearer, the attorneys and case workers who are orchestrating life-changing positive outcomes for kids,” said Julie, “I’m working on my first case, but I can already see that a good outcome will be gratifying.”