This month, we celebrate the service Sharissa Coates, a volunteer advocate in Rogers County for nearly 18 months. Sharissa and her husband have five children and enjoy the country lifestyle together. From running their business to homeschooling the kids, they stay busy and close-knit as a family. Sharissa is active in her church and has served in pre-teen and Middle School ministry. In addition to helping with the youth ministry, Sharissa is passionate about her church’s mission work in Haiti. She has traveled there multiple times over the past few years, working to develop personal relationships with the families she serves. Back home, she works to connect fellow church members to these families in need. The people she serves in Haiti are a big part in Sharissa’s life.
When asked about what drew her to the work of CASA, Sharissa contributed it to the work she is already doing in Haiti and the call of God in her life to help children. “Through my trips to Haiti and desire to help the children and families there, I began praying and asking God to show me how I can help children in my own community. Through those prayers, I felt like CASA would be a great way to get involved with children and families needing extra support and care.” Sharissa’s heart is clearly set on helping families and children in need, no matter if they are on her street or the streets of Haiti.
One of the more difficult aspects of volunteering for Sharissa is “sitting in the courtroom, hearing some of the things these children have been through… It is heartbreaking at times.” Even though it is tough, there are successes that Sharissa has enjoyed. “Successful reunification is very rewarding, as is developing relationships with the children, families, and workers.”
Sharissa is a fantastic volunteer with a gift for working with children. When asked what she does to connect with children, especially those who are in difficult situations, Sharissa said “Connecting with any given child may look differently depending on age, background, interests, etc. I think gaining their trust by being a friendly face and engaging them about their interests is helpful with older children. While getting on the floor and playing with babies and younger kids is a quick way to connect.”
Sharissa’s main desire is for everyone to work together to achieve a safe and healthy environment for the whole family. “I love when the foster family is able to work closely with the biological parents to provide the best outcome for the child,” Sharissa said about her first CASA case. “Both parties involved worked toward the common goal of the parent bettering themselves in order to gain reunification.”
Sharissa is clearly passionate about helping families in her community through her CASA work. “If anyone has a desire to get involved in helping children, just go for it. Get involved. Don’t wait, as the need doesn’t lessen.” Sharissa would encourage anyone to support CASA, even if you think you are too busy. “It is a commitment, but it is a rewarding one. I believe even the busiest of people could manage to be a CASA. I promise,” Sharissa continued, “you get way more out of it than you could possibly put in.”
Sharissa summed up what drives her and CASA as a whole well. “Knowing you are helping even one child have a voice is worth it.”
This selfless attitude and servant’s heart is exactly what children throughout Northeast Oklahoma need. That mindset is also what we look for here at Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma – CASA. We are in constant need of more dedicated volunteers. If you are inspired by Sharissa’s story or the work we do in general of being the voice of neglected and abused children, do not hesitate to contact us for more information.
Volunteer Your Time to Change a Child’s Life
Nobody longs for a safe and loving family more than a child in foster care. As a court-appointed special advocate CASA volunteer, you are empowered by the courts to help make this dream a reality. You will not only bring positive change to the lives of these vulnerable children, but also their children and generations to come. And in doing so, you will enrich your life as well.
What Do CASA Volunteers Do?
CASA volunteers listen first. Then they act.
Volunteers get to know the child by talking with everyone in that child’s life: parents and relatives, foster parents, teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, social workers and others. They use the information they gather to inform judges and others of what the child needs and what will be the best permanent home for them.
Who Can Be a Volunteer?
You do not have to be a lawyer or a social worker to be a volunteer. We welcome people from all walks of life. We are simply looking for people who care about children and have common sense. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.
You must be at least 21, pass a background check, participate in a 30-hour pre-service training course and agree to stay with a case until it is closed (a year and a half on average).
What Are the Requirements to Be a CASA?
- Demonstrates emotional maturity
- Is objective and flexible
- Exhibits self assurance and assertiveness
- Has the ability to make decisions and set goals
- Is willing to commit to the program for a minimum of 24 months
- Demonstrates the ability to write and speak clearly and concisely
CASAs are not:
- CASAs are not Big Brothers or Big Sisters
- CASAs are not attorneys
- CASA are not social workers
- CASAs are not rescuers
- Friends of the Court
- Eyes and ears of the Court
- Independent and objective people who represent the child’s best interest
Do you live outside the five counties we serve and want to volunteer in your community? Go to www.oklahomacasa.org to find a program near you.
CASA Video: I Am for the Child
Did you know that 400,000 children in America are still waiting for their CASA volunteer? Waiting for that one trusted adult who will stick with them until their case is resolved. Waiting because today CASA can serve only 35% of the children in the foster care system. Waiting for YOU!
CASA Video: Everyday Heroes
Everyday Heroes highlights CASA volunteers making a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. It provides a rare opportunity to hear directly from children about their homes before and after a CASA volunteer came into their lives.
Use Link to Become a CASA Volunteer
Are YOU ready to become a CASA volunteer? Simply use the action button below to access the required forms and additional information about the application process. An abused and/or neglected child is waiting for YOUR help!
CASA Video: Former First Lady Laura Bush
Child abuse is an epidemic across this nation. Currently, fewer than half the children in foster care have a CASA volunteer to stand up for them. Former First Lady Laura Bush focuses on the need for more Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs).