Submitted by Julie Malmberg-Grawe
CASA of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
As a court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer for the past 11 years, Judy Ackley sees first-hand how CASA support helps strengthen one family at a time.
"I believe that it takes a village to raise a child," she said. "As a CASA volunteer, I work with one family at a time and don't have the workload or obligations of others, like GALs and social workers on the case. I can be a second set of eyes and ears for the children while connecting with the schools, therapists, and other people in the children's lives to make the best recommendations to the court."
In Judy's opinion, appearing and speaking up in court are the most challenging parts of volunteering, but she knows her input makes a difference. “Letting the judge know your thoughts can make a huge impact on the case,” she said.
Judy originally trained as a CASA volunteer in Garden City, Kansas. After nearly three decades in the financial services industry, she started a new chapter in her life with CASA. “I had heard about CASA from a good friend who was a foster care parent, but didn’t think I would have time,” she said. “Once I semi-retired, I decided it was time to get involved.”
Judy went through training in Kansas and had two cases there before relocating to Colorado to be closer to her two daughters and her grandchildren. Shortly after moving, she connected with CASA of Adams and Broomfield Counties, attended training again, and then selected a case that spoke to her. She’s worked with several children and families since then, and appreciates the opportunities the court system provides to families to improve how they might be functioning, with CASA volunteers looking out for the best interest of the children.
“Not everyone is cut out to be a CASA volunteer and many people don’t have the time,” she said. “But I would encourage everyone to get involved in some way. As a CASA volunteer, you can make a huge impact on a case, children’s lives, and a family’s wellbeing. If you can’t volunteer, consider donating as that makes a big difference as well.”
In addition to volunteering with CASA, Judy also became an active member of Broomfield United Methodist Church when she moved to Colorado. She had attended services with her daughter Ellen before she relocated, and the traditional service and choral music appealed to Judy. August marks Judy's 10th year in Colorado and as a congregant at Broomfield United Methodist Church.
CASA volunteers (Court Appointed Special Advocates) are ordinary citizens, like you, doing extraordinary work. CASA volunteers establish stable relationships with foster children, getting to know their unique history and making informed recommendations to the courts. To learn more about how you can become a CASA volunteer, go to www.coloradocasa.org/menus/volunteer.html