Dustin Demoin has multiple graduate degrees, but none in law or social services. So, how does an adjunct lecturer in Chemistry, with Texan roots, find his way to CASA of Northwest Arkansas? When Dustin and his husband Alex first moved to the region two years ago, Alex introduced Dustin to Katie Chapman, a university colleague and current CASA volunteer. Dustin had always been involved with a cause – helping where he could – throughout his entire life. He knew he wanted to give back in his new home but wasn’t sure the best fit for him. When Katie shared the dire need for more advocates in Washington County, Dustin was intrigued. He’d always been fascinated with the legal system and was curious about adoption; it seemed like a great fit. Not long after, in May 2017, Dustin was sworn in for duty as a CASA volunteer.
Serving as a CASA has been eye-opening to Dustin. He admitted how little he understood about life inside the system. Having grown up in a small town, he wasn’t exposed to the substance abuse, manipulation, and the psychological trauma that infiltrates the majority of our cases. He watched well-meaning DHS workers try to solve problems that were far bigger than the resources available. He was frustrated to see people not acting like adults, not putting children first.
For all of those reasons, Dustin’s first case took an emotional toll on him. As this case was coming to a close, he realized he may prefer working with older youth where mentoring plays a larger role in one’s advocacy. While in court for his first case’s final hearing, Dustin heard a new case that struck a chord with him. He listened to a story of a young person, struggling with appearing “normal” on the outside but feeling anything but on the inside. He could relate and knew he could help. Now, Dustin is there to ask the hard questions. He works diligently to get everyone on the same page. While the road may be long, he is there to help this teen have a say in her life and make sure she knows that someone cares.
That is advocacy in a nutshell: helping a child have her voice heard and making sure she knows that someone cares. Bravo, Dustin. Bravo.