April 2022 Advocate Spotlight: Taryn Gordon
We invite you to meet Taryn Gordon, nominated by Family Engagement Manager and Case Supervisor Destin Hudek.
“Taryn is hardworking and compassionate, and she loves children,” Destin said. “She always goes above and beyond in her casework, and she is a strong Advocate for reunifying families! Taryn is a beautiful person inside and out, and I cannot say enough good things about her!”
We asked Taryn to share about her experiences as an Advocate.
Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?
I have an elementary education background. I taught kindergarten and first grade for fifteen years in a Title 1 school with a large English Language Learner population. Children are my calling, and I’ve always been involved in helping children’s organizations or charities.
How did you become interested in volunteering as a CASA?
I have known about CASA for over twenty years. When I was getting my master’s degree in California in 1999, one of my classes was on family violence and we had to learn about many different organizations that fall into that category. I wanted to be a CASA back then but just didn’t have the time, and then we started a family. My husband’s company has supported CASA for many years, and a few years ago I felt like I needed something more to fill my days. I met CASA Recruiting Manager Shellie Tyrrell at a Waste Connections’ golf tournament, and she convinced me to go for it!
Did you have any reservations about volunteering?
I did have reservations at first—I am an emotional person and was worried that I would be significantly affected by the children’s experiences. Did I want to expose myself to all of that? But I prayed about it and God just spoke to me and said, “You can do this.”
Explain in your own words the work you do as a CASA. Why is it important for a child in care?
I help give children a brighter future and a loving, stable environment they deserve. By showing up, I am letting a child know that there are people who care and want the best for them. It is not fair that they have been born into a situation out of their control and may have experienced trauma in their childhood. As a CASA, it is my job to advocate a better life and a better future for them in every aspect of their life—physical, emotional, educational.
What has surprised you most about your work as a CASA?
I was surprised by how much I would love it. People always say that they can’t believe I can handle the emotional load of it, but I look at it differently. Yes, it may be emotional, but think of how difficult it is for the children we serve. They need us. The children and families teach me so much about love and the need for support.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being a casa? Most rewarding?
The most difficult aspect for me is court. I get nervous about being emotional and not answering the questions precisely without rambling or adding unnecessary information. The more I do it, the better it gets. The most rewarding aspect is the relationship that I develop with each child and family I work with. I have kept in contact with some of them, and I love hearing how the children are doing.
What would you like the community to know about children in care?
I would like the community to know that this is the most rewarding volunteer work. A CASA is necessary for every child who enters into custody. I have many friends who foster children in other counties, and they wish they had a CASA.
What have you learned about children in care?
Children in care deserve a better life. They deserve to be happy and to have someone walk alongside them whom they can trust and depend on. CASA provides that for them. And CASA is doing so many things to help support children in the child welfare system and change the course of a child’s life while in care. I love being a part of that.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
I have so many wonderful CASA memories, but most recently I experienced my first adoption. The family all wore T-shirts welcoming the child into their family. They had a photo shoot and a party, and they wanted me to be a part of it all. I continue to stay in contact with them and will celebrate the child’s birthday with them next week! I love happy endings!
Anything else you want to share about CASA?
CASA is the most supportive organization that I have ever been a part of! My supervisor, Destin Hudek, always takes my calls, and I never feel like I am bothering her with all my questions! Being a CASA is so much easier with all the support that they give!