Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021
To some, being a teacher, mom, and wife in the middle of a pandemic would be more than enough to do. But not for Sam Sprague. Sam wanted to use her spare time to reach out and help children in any way that she could. She decided to start by becoming a CASA volunteer. Sam has volunteered with CASA for a little over one year now. In that time, she has helped to advocate for the needs and best interests of a sweet five-year-old girl, witnessing a beautiful reunification between the child and her mother. We had the opportunity to sit down with Sam and ask her a few questions about her experiences as a volunteer. Here is what she had to say.
Tell us about yourself.
I am 30 years old, married to a great guy named Tanner, and we have two beautiful kids. Our son, Charlie, is three and our daughter, Isla, is a year old. I am passionate about teaching English - I've been a 7th grade classroom teacher for nine years now! I love spending time with my family and friends, shopping, and decorating. I work for a wedding florist, so I am able to help design and implement some pretty amazing floral contraptions for beautiful weddings.
How did you first hear about and get involved with CASA?
I've been interested in foster care for a really long time, but knew it wasn't a right fit for our family just yet. I learned about CASA and realized this was the perfect place for me to utilize my passion to care for foster children and youth.
What is it like to be a CASA volunteer?
Hmmm...it keeps me on my toes! My time so far has gone pretty smooth, but I've had amazing supervisors to help keep me on track and focus on my goals.
What would you tell someone considering becoming a CASA volunteer?
Be prepared to have a lot of conflicting feelings - while you want what is best for the child on your case, their bio parents, or their current placement, those feelings can often contradict what may seem best for the child in that moment.
What has surprised you the most about volunteering with CASA?
I was shocked at how much my CASA training would impact my role as a teacher. I feel like I've been more sensitive to a child's situation, but also had a better understanding of what they might be facing. As teachers, we are taught to take care of the children we teach, but there is so much missing training on how to identify if there are issues to begin with. I feel like CASA really taught me how to utilize the training in all areas of my life.
Have you had any cases that have really stuck out to you? If so, why?
I've only had the one case so far, but it was such a joyful case because I was able to witness the biological mother work SO HARD to get her daughter back. I know we advocate for the child, but I feel like I was able to advocate for the family to be reunited in order to help the child. It was a beautiful experience.
What is the most gratifying/self-rewarding experience you've had as a volunteer?
Watching the little girl on my case being reunited with her mother. I believe a child's greatest desire is to be with their biological family. And although that is not always what is best for every child, it's amazing to have seen it play out that way for my case.
How have the children you have worked with impacted your life?
My first (and only) child has taught me how a child should be treated and valued during this tumultuous process. She rolled with the punches and kept her joy-filled spirit the entire time.
What advice do you have for a new volunteer?
Don't be afraid to start this process. I was so worried about "saying the wrong thing," or not knowing how to get the answers I needed, but my supervisors helped me through the process so much. I feel more confident taking a new case at this point. You will get so much help, so don't let fear stop you from advocating for someone who needs it most.
More CASA volunteers, like Sam, are needed to advocate for children who enter the child welfare system. Volunteers who will help to ensure these children have the best opportunities to thrive. Are you ready to help? Volunteer today!