“I have more confidence as a CASA than anything else in my life.”
Depending on the severity of the situation and the number of children involved, any one case could have the potential to require a fair amount of attention from our volunteers, which is why we ask our CASAs to only serve one case at a time. There are a handful of volunteers, however, that for their own reasons are able and willing to take on more if they choose.
Eight-year CASA veteran, Glen Hoffman, is one of those volunteers.
Glen has been living in Arkansas since he was nine when he moved here from Illinois. As a young man, Glen found himself getting into trouble and struggled to find the positive support he needed from his family. The events of their strained relationship eventually led him to become independent at 18 years old, and the path he was on would likely have led him to prison.
Glen found his faith just in time for a change. His faith got him out of that life and pivoted him to begin work as a detention minister for individuals facing time in prison. He loved his work, but an injury combined with other health complications led to several significant surgeries, causing him to be placed on disability.
“You’ve been assigned as a protector as they go through foster care. When you can advocate selflessly, you can make a real difference. I’m not just a CASA; I’m a warrior.”
When Glen first heard about CASA through his ministerial work, he was intrigued at how much of an impact could be made in these children’s lives. With his background in working with incarcerated individuals, he was especially attuned to some of the things that cause parents to lose custody of their children. “What really made me want to become a CASA is that I’ve seen. What drugs and such can do to people and their kids,” said Glen.
“One of the most important things about being a CASA is to take your beliefs out of the situation for the kid. If you’re a CASA, you’re not doing it for yourself, you do it for others.”
Though Glen finds most of his energy and motivation through his faith, he iterates the importance of stepping back from some of your beliefs to advocate for the child’s best interest.
Youth that identify as LGBTQIA+, for example, come into care for similar reasons as other children, but they are often more at risk for abuse or neglect after disclosing their identity or questioning status to their family. How any youth identifies does not negate the support and compassion children need to grow, let alone their right to basic needs and access to resources.
“Being a CASA is really kind of like my life, and these kids are kind of like my kids. I’ll probably be doing CASA until I die.”
One of Glen’s strategies as a CASA is to find the right tools to help him in his advocacy. Recalling one of the cases he worked on, Glen shared, “Sam* has some of the worst anger outbreaks, but he loves fishing. When he’s not in residential treatment, he loves [to fish], and that’s a tool. As a CASA, we have to find tools that can help break down those barriers, and that work for us and the kid.”
Glen’s advocacy serves as an example of how a CASA’s voice for a child is so much more personal than only being there for the legal nuances of the case in court; it is an opportunity to form a lasting, meaningful relationship with the child because they have had so much taken away already.
According to Glen, the success he finds as a CASA has a lot to do with his collaboration with CASA Supervisors, Kristen Smith and Amanda Wilkerson. “If Kristen wasn’t there to help me, I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do. It’s a volunteer going out there, but what really makes a CASA is the supervisor and the volunteer working together,” shared Glen.
“My favorite part of being a CASA is that at any moment I can change a kid’s life.”
As a CASA, whether you have one case at a time or three, the impact you make on each child has the potential to change their lives for the better. For Glen, being a CASA is more than volunteering; it is an identity, and he’s changing lives every day by simply being himself.