A Message from the President & CEO: November 2022
By Ann Marie Ronsman, President & CEO | CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I like that it brings to the front of your mind all the blessings in life that we so often take for granted.
I have memories of the feasts made from scratch by my mother. She would prepare hand-dried bread for stuffing, red cabbage made in advance so all the flavors would marinate over many days, turkey in the roaster, and of course, homemade mashed potatoes. So many of these traditions I have shared with my teenage children who now help with the same side dishes my mother taught me to make.
I remember one Thanksgiving when my father ended up in the hospital unexpectedly. For the first time, my mother decided that she would not cook, and instead, we would go out for Thanksgiving dinner. I remember sitting in this very nice restaurant and feeling so uncomfortable … like we didn’t belong … like this was not what Thanksgiving should feel like.
Facing the Holiday Season for Kids in Care
Children in foster care will experience those same feelings. Kids in care grieve their losses more acutely during the holidays. If they are fortunate enough to be placed in a foster home, they will still celebrate the holidays, but not surrounded by familiar faces and places and food as they have in the past. They will be included in new family traditions that are foreign.
Children in care share with us that at this time of year, they very much feel like outsiders.
Many older children will celebrate holidays in a Residential Treatment Center (a group home) where the staff, other residents, and the policies of the facility will dictate what will happen on those holidays. Nothing is personalized.
Advocates make a difference
Our Advocates serve a critical role every day, but this time of year, they especially bridge the gap and bring familiarity to the children we serve.
- They ask children about their traditions and what they are missing.
- They facilitate phone calls and letters between the child and safe family members.
- They facilitate parent-child visits when it is safe to do so.
- They ask children about their favorite holiday memories and help them to acknowledge and grieve their loss.
- They may deliver a special dessert the child remembers having with their families or make Christmas crafts as a remembrance.
- Our Advocates bring gifts, activity kits, books, and games and help make new memories.
None of the work we do is possible without you! Whether you are a volunteer, an Advocate, a donor, or someone who remembers CASA in your prayers, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your generosity is essential to what we do.
May you be surrounded by the warmth of the holiday season,
Ann Marie Ronsman, MSN, RN, TBRI Practitioner
President & CEO, CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County