By Ann McAlpin
Executive Director, CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County
When we were little, my dad danced me on his shoes. He took me to the pool every Sunday and cheered when I swam a lap or did an underwater somersault. He taught me how to hold a puppy carefully, to fish quietly, to waterski with abandon, and to marvel that an airplane could fly. He let me major in music because I loved it, although every business bone in his body thought that was a distressingly low-potential idea. When I told him I might want to be a tour guide, he asked me what I would think about owning a travel company. He loved me, he taught me to think and be strong, he believed in me and he told me so, often. I had the best dad in the world!
In this Fathers’ Day Season, I find myself reflecting on the other kinds of dads—the dads who betray their children with violence, neglect, intentional absence, or drugs that become the sad epi-center of life. How do these kids learn that they’re valuable if nobody dances them on their shoes? That acts have consequences, both good and bad, if nobody listens? That daily life has challenges and rewards, when nobody cheers? How can these children possibly grow to be wise and loving adults?
Today, I’m particularly thinking about the boys, the young men.
Half of the kids in the foster care system are boys, but only twenty percent of our current CASA Advocates are men. Our women Advocates are unbeatable! But imagine the possibility of giving our boys a close-up example of a good man in action. We need more men to advocate for the boys, particularly for teens who may never have known a man who was strong and kind and good.
In this Father’s Day season, please spread the word to the strong, kind and good men you know that being a CASA Advocate is an honorable and rewarding way to give back to the community, and to make a life-changing difference for kids who weren’t lucky enough to have a dad like mine.
And thanks and a big hug to all of you dads who ARE the best Dad in the world to someone special! This Sunday, we honor you. (And I can’t help saying—do think about becoming an Advocate if you’re not already!)