My CASA volunteer came into my life during a very scary time. I was seven years old. And I had to speak in court about some bad and scary things that happened, and I didn’t want to talk about them. My CASA, Katy, was with me through it all. She talked to me before the trial and told me it wasn’t my fault, and that I didn’t do anything wrong. She told me that no one was going to be mad at me, and all I had to do was tell the truth. In court, I looked at Katy the whole time. The adults in suits kept asking me questions, questions that made me embarrassed. I just looked forward and answered all the questions and I was honest.
They kept telling me to talk louder. I didn’t want to talk louder. I didn’t like hearing the things I was saying, they were bad and scary. I just wanted the whole thing to be over. I kept looking at Katy when I got really scared. She was the only person in the courtroom who I knew. I was so happy she was there for me. I love my CASA volunteer. If it weren’t for her, I don’t think I would have been able to talk in court that day. She made me feel safe. Sometimes we would play games, like Would You Rather. I feel like I can laugh and be silly with Katy. She would take me to do fun stuff, like paint pottery, which I loved because I got to pick everything. I got to pick what I wanted to paint, and what color I wanted it to be. Katy showed me that not all adults are mean and scary, and most can actually be really fun sometimes. When my foster family adopted me, I got to pick a new name. I chose the name Kati, because I really like that name, and I want to be like Katy when I grow up. I wish every kid like me had a Katy, because I don’t know what I would have done without her. -Karly (aka Kati)
I’m Katy Maxwell, Karly’s CASA volunteer. In the year and a half that I served on this case, I logged over 1,100 miles and spent nearly 70 hours visiting Karly. I get emotional just thinking about all this little girl has been through. She’s nine years old now and has experienced so much more in her life than most of us. I can’t imagine the things she’s seen and heard. It’s no wonder she had such a severe mistrust of adults. She’d never known an adult who cared for her best interest before. And then she was thrust into a foster system full of strangers.
For me, Karly illustrated how innocent these children are. They’re in foster care through no fault of their own. Most of them have parents who just make bad decisions. Karly’s experience opened my eyes to how terrible some of those decisions can be. Karly was made to lie. She was exposed to gruesome violence and many other illicit activities. She was manipulated in unimaginable ways. A child of such innocence, broken by those who were supposed to care for her. But fortunately, because of CASA, I was able to be there for Karly. I held her hand as she had to testify against her caretakers in court. I argued for her when a family member –who had no business taking custody– tried to have her sent all the way to Mexico to live with, essentially, strangers. And proudly, I was able to stand alongside her as she was adopted into a loving forever home with two amazing parents and three big brothers she adores. There are hundreds of children like Karly who are still in foster care. Your gifts to CASA support volunteers like me as we provide a stable and supportive presence in the lives of the children who need it most. We must help them understand how important it is to have a network of stable people in their lives – and help them reach a safe, permanent home. CASA needs your backing. And these kids need CASA. Be a Light of Hope this season and give more children like Karly the gift of having a CASA volunteer. Your support changes lives!
All my best,
Amazing volunteers like Katy are changing lives all over Oklahoma County and the state. Foster youth rely on caring, consistent CASA volunteers to advocate for their best interest. Your gift of $2,000 will ensure more children like Karly experience the committed support of someone like Katy all year in 2020! Please give using the digital giving form below, or you can mail a check made payable to “CASA of Oklahoma County, Inc.” to 1608 NW Expressway, #101, OKC OK 73118 – and write Light of Hope in the memo line!