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Marilyn Bryant: How Wilson County CASA can lead the way

Marilyn Bryant • Updated Jun 22, 2017 at 4:00 PM

I am for the child.

That’s the mantra of the Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer. For those who have given time, energy and heart to advocate for abused and neglected children in search of a safe, permanent home, those words are meaningful. I am for the child means I am the child’s voice. I convey the child’s hopes and dreams to the court. I am going to do everything I can to ensure that the child has support throughout this adverse experience and comes out of it stronger. But this isn’t about me. It’s about you.

Tennessee needs you to be for the child, too.

Across the state, 1,444 CASA volunteers help 5,250 children annually through one of the most difficult times they may ever face, and their support is imperative. For a child living in the middle of a traumatizing experience, having a CASA volunteer can positively change the course of his or her life, which is not only good for the child, but also for the community. Locally, we have 70 volunteers at Wilson County CASA at 111 Castle Heights Ave. in Lebanon.

A CASA volunteer is a friend, encourager and listening ear to an abused or neglected child. They take the time to get to know a child and his or her story so that they can be the child’s voice. A CASA volunteer always stands up for the child’s best interests, positioning him or her for a better tomorrow.

Volunteering now as an advocate for children can help mitigate the effects of the trauma and abuse, giving the child the support necessary to heal. Ultimately, this benefits the whole community. 

Knowing the importance of this work, TN CASA has launched a statewide campaign called “Be For The Child.” Its purpose is to grow our volunteer base so we can advocate for more children across the state and in our community.

The challenge is there’s so much more we can do. An estimated 20,000 vulnerable children in Tennessee could benefit from a CASA volunteer. Many of those children are in our own backyard.

Someone must lead the way to close the gap. Why not us? Why don’t we strive to have the greatest percentage increase of new CASA volunteers in the state? Why don’t we show the children of Tennessee there is someone out there who believes in them and wants what’s best for them? Every child in need of a CASA volunteer deserves to have one. Why don’t we make that happen? We can and we should be for the child.

There are many ways to help. Share beforthechild.org with your friends and encourage those around you to learn more about the volunteer experience. You can find us on our Facebook page at Wilson County CASA or visit our website at wilsoncountycasa.org.

Volunteers come from all walks of life. No prior experience is required or needed to be a CASA volunteer. The local CASA program provides you with all the training and tools you need. All it takes is your time and a heart to make a lasting difference in a child’s life. By volunteering with CASA, you can help children avoid trauma that could have a negative impact on their lives and replace their adverse experience with hope and a future.

I know our community cares for our children. Here’s our chance to demonstrate that the safety of children is our priority. If you can’t be a CASA volunteer, share our story with those that you can.

It’s been proven that just one caring adult can make a lasting impact on the trajectory of that child’s life. CASA is uniquely positioned to play that life-changing role. Be that adult. Be for the child. Help Wilson County CASA lead the way.

Marilyn Bryant, of Lebanon, is a volunteer with Wilson County CASA.

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