When I was a kid, I was a superhero geek. I got sucked in early. My first taste was the Adventures of Superman with George Reeves as the Man of Steel. I must have been 5 or 6 when I watched my first episode. Wait a minute… I just checked Wikipedia, and this show ran from 1952-1958! I’m freaking out a little bit. Though I was watching reruns in the 60s, I am old. Anyways. Then it was Batman with Adam West as the Caped Crusader (if you’re wondering it aired from 1966 to 1968).
Eventually, I started buying and collecting comic books. DC and Marvel both. I was partial to DC. Superman and Batman were DC characters. My allegiance was clearly defined by my early influences for sure, but all the characters fascinated me. But, as I grew, my interests would move from this make believe world to other pursuits. Yet, still today, I won’t miss all these superhero-based films that are being made (and remade) on a regular basis. And, I know, that one of the draws for me in the superhero fantasy is the secret identity.
Behind the mild-mannered reporter, the eccentric billionaire, the nerdy photographer is Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. These extraordinary beings hide their powers and passions behind ordinary personas. Clark Kent is Superman? Ridiculous! Though it is hard to believe the glasses actually worked, the contrast between the two characters was so dramatic that even if there was a likeness it just couldn’t be possible to the suspicious.
It is this secret persona idea that struck me when I first learned about the Volunteer Advocates of CASA. For me, these ordinary individuals are revealing their extraordinary powers of empathy and passion as they volunteer their time to give abused and neglected children a voice.
For those who don’t know, CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers sworn in by a judge as "Friends of the Court."
These volunteers are trained and supported by paid CASA staff to monitor the court cases of children aged birth to eighteen who have been adjudicated as abused, neglected and/or dependent by the juvenile court system. CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge to serve as an advocate for the purpose of speaking in the child's best interest.
To become an Advocate, a volunteer must complete 35 hours of training and 3 hours of court observation. They are asked to make a minimum 18-month commitment to the program though they must see their case through to completion. In 2011, the average case was 30 months long.
You might think I am stretching the superhero analogy. Maybe, but you don’t know how many people I have told about CASA who have remarked that they would love to volunteer too, but for whatever reason they can’t. And, while I am not condemning those folks, these Advocates are doing it! They are unleashing their superhero on behalf of kids. They might not be leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but surely their dedication to serving the most defenseless among us, children, is a basic tenet of the superhero code.
Join me in supporting CASA of DuPage at http://projectboost.org/causes/i-am-for-the-child-lets-give-casa-of-dupage-a-boost/