January 2023 Advocate Spotlight: Mary Kay Hinkle
We invite you to meet Mary Kay Hinkle, nominated by Case Supervisor Karen Vegas.
“Mary Kay embodies the values of CASA, and she is not afraid of speaking up,” Karen said. “Mary Kay is a team player and forms her opinions objectively, with the best interests of the child always as her guide.”
We asked Mary Kay to share her experiences as an Advocate.
Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?
I was extremely blessed to be raised by wonderful parents in a caring and loving environment. I thank God for my family every day. It breaks my heart to think about all the children who aren’t being raised in the same way, and it motivates me to find a way to help them.
How did you become interested in volunteering as AN aDVOCATE?
I first heard about CASA during my time in the National Charity League. I also have a friend who was an Advocate, so I talked to her about the work that was involved.
Did you have any reservations about volunteering?
I was worried that I would get in over my head as far as time management is concerned. I wanted to volunteer but didn’t want my life to become chaotic. It has not been difficult at all to organize my time and accomplish all I want to accomplish!
Explain in your own words the work you do as a CASA aDVOCATE. Why is it important for a child in care?
I provide love and support to children going through probably the toughest period in their lives, while I also explore every avenue to determine what is in the child’s best interests.
What has surprised you most about your aDVOCACY work?
It has genuinely surprised me how respected and valued each CASA Advocate is in the legal system in which we function.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being an advocate? Most rewarding?
The hardest part of advocacy is when things in your case don’t go the way you had hoped they would. The best part is when you work hard and take chances, and things do work out for the best for the child you serve.
What would you like the community to know about children in care?
Children in the child welfare system are dealing with more than you can imagine, and they need so much help from the community to learn to deal with their experiences.
What have you learned about children in care?
I have learned so much about children in the state’s care. Through CASA’s training, I have learned about why a child is acting and/or reacting the way they are. It has been an eye-opening experience. My TBRI training has helped me understand so much about the kids we serve.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
After six years of volunteering, my stand-out moment happened about a month ago. After some pivotal moments in a trial that became contentious, the judge agreed with the recommendations of the child’s attorney ad litem and CASA, changing a child’s life. After a few sad cases and disappointing outcomes, it was a very happy day for me.