Phil Keene is a busy guy: full-time job at Walmart, married with kids, vestry member for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, and working towards an MBA at the U of A. And on top of all of that, he is a CASA volunteer.
Phil’s CASA story begins with him and his wife attending the Light of Hope breakfast a few years ago. Phil says he could feel his wife’s eyes on him throughout the event. She immediately recognized what Phil hadn’t yet – that he would be an incredible advocate for children in foster care. Phil came to realize that with his compassion for children in need, understanding of court, and background in politics and communications, this was something he could do. He attended a CASA 101 info session a few weeks later, and the rest is history.
Phil has certainly found his calling in this work. He is incredibly dedicated to his cases and appreciates being a part of the child welfare team. He admits the work is emotionally draining and is particularly upset when kids are let down by the people who are supposed to love them. Moments like those drive him to take personal responsibility to make sure his CASA kids feel wanted and important, not just to him but by all of the caring adults around them.
When asked about the best part of being a CASA, Phil shared a moment when he went to a swim meet of one of the kids on his current case. As he walked towards the children in the parking lot, huge smiles flashed across their faces, they called out, “Mr. Phil! Mr. Phil!,” and covered him in hugs. “It’s still one of the highlights of the case for me. They are so happy to see me every time I’m around. No question what the best part of being a CASA is.”
But, it’s not just about smiles and hugs for him. Phil truly values the opportunity to ensure these children are safe and loved and to help pave their way to a brighter future. “I take my role as an advocate, a supporter, a protector of my kids, very seriously. It’s important. There’s so much at stake at a critical time in their lives.”