Several SOU alumni are volunteering this year as Court Appointed Special Advocates – a national organization that provides volunteer support and aid for children that have experienced abuse or neglect, and are struggling within the court system. The Jackson County division of CASA has welcomed many past and present SOU students as volunteers in recent years.
Kelly Taylor got his master of arts in teaching degree at SOU in 2006, and began teaching kindergarten shortly after. He had contact with CASA volunteers as part of that job, and eventually began volunteering himself, alongside his wife.
He currently works with two children, whom he visits at least once a month – developing personal relationships with them and their families, and offering a friendly figure to connect with. After spending time with the children, he writes court reports on their cases to help a judge make decisions for the children in a court of law.
“I got involved with CASA because I fervently believe that it takes every one of us to somehow do our part to make the Rogue Valley the best place it can be,” Kelly said, recounting why he decided to join CASA.
He enjoyed being able to get involved in the community, and the volunteer work has been very fulfilling. In general, he encourages help in the community in many different ways. CASA has been a great way for him to give back, along with activities such as nature maintenance crews, feeding the less fortunate and donating to charities.
Another SOU alum making strides with CASA is Alicia Linton Ambrocio, who majored in criminal justice with a minor in psychology at SOU. She started as an intern for CASA during her senior year of college, became a full-fledged volunteer shortly after and has now moved up to the position of case supervisor for the organization.
Alicia became inspired to work for CASA through her studies of the justice system, and realizing the potential for prejudice against people of color and other minority groups.
“Working for CASA is honestly some of the most rewarding work I have ever done,” she said. “Working with the families, putting a face to these court cases, and amplifying the children’s voices is so important, real differences can be made (in) the process.”
Alicia has found that the work done for CASA-supported children and families can have a long-lasting result on the community as a whole.
There are at least 10 current or former SOU students involved with CASA in Jackson County. The program provides its volunteers the opportunity to support children in need and foster a better overall environment for them and the communities in which they live. More information for those interested in getting involved with CASA and making a difference in children’s lives is available at this link.
Story by Nash Bennett, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer