July Advocate Spotlight: Bob Jefferis
We have a second Advocate spotlight for the month of July! You’re invited to meet CASA Advocate, Bob Jefferis. Bob answers a few questions for us about his own experience as a Guardian Ad Litem for children in foster care.
Bob Jefferis was nominated for the Advocate spotlight by his CASA Case Supervisor, Victoria Warmuth. Bob has served as a CASA Advocate here in Montgomery County for a little more than a year, sworn-in in early March of 2020 just before the pandemic took hold. However, he had previously advocated for children in Travis County. Victoria writes the following about Bob:
“Bob is a gentle and kind-hearted soul with a passion for advocating for children of all ages. He came to us from Austin [Travis County] CASA, where he primarily served older boys. Bob dedicates his life to service and is also a tutor at Angel Reach.”
CAN YOU TELL US, IN YOUR OWN WORDS, ABOUT WHAT PROBLEM CASA ADVOCATES HELP TO SOLVE?
As the only independent voice amongst the many parties involved in the case, Advocates play an important role ensuring good information is available on the case and facilitating communication between the parties to avoid misunderstandings, avoid unmet needs and avoid missed opportunities, and advocate for the best interest of the children.
HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT CASA?
A friend shared with me what he did as a CASA volunteer.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS CAUSE?
I have always had a soft spot for kids living in difficult situations. I also committed in retirement to dedicate my time and skills to giving back to the community.
DID YOU HAVE ANY RESERVATIONS ABOUT BECOMING AN ADVOCATE?
No, I did not. I felt that if I kept the best interests of the kids at heart, then I could not go wrong.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW YOU FELT WHEN YOU WERE FIRST SWORN IN AS AN ADVOCATE?
I was proud of being recognized by the court as an Advocate and was eager to begin my first case.
Ok. So How did you feel when you took your first case?
It certainly seemed a bit overwhelming as there seemed so many different things to pay attention to. But I found by jumping in, getting started and asking questions, an Advocate can have a positive impact very quickly.
WITH SO MANY WORTHWHILE ORGANIZATIONS TO SUPPORT, WHY SHOULD OTHERS CHOOSE TO SUPPORT CASA?
I think you need to have a heart for helping people one on one – kids and their families – who are going through difficult times, whether from circumstances or choices made or both.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE?
These kids are so precious and wonderful and deserve the best we have to offer to help them get through some really tough times.
WHAT WAS MOST SURPRISING TO YOU ABOUT THE ROLE OF AN ADVOCATE?
You have a court-mandated ‘seat at the table’, the same as all the other parties in the case. Also, an Advocate can have a positive impact on the parents and their goals when it aligns with the children’s best interest.
IS THERE an achievement or contribution of which you are most proud?
- Sticking with cases and being present through all the ups and downs that you expect when dealing with families and their lives and relationships, is very gratifying.
- When a teenager (and his family) for whom you advocated keeps in touch with you after aging out, that is also very gratifying.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE FACED AS A CHILD’S ADVOCATE?
It is important to keep a positive attitude in the role. There are many (often overworked) parties working within a heavily-regulated system, so it is important we stay focused on what we can accomplish and contribute… and not on the things we cannot control.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING BECOMING A VOLUNTEER ADVOCATE?
If you want to get directly involved with kids and their families dealing with really difficult problems and make a positive impact in their lives, then this is the role for you.
HOW HAS SERVING AS AN ADVOCATE CHANGED YOU?
I have learned so much about the social systems that provide a safety net for families in tough situations. I find the experience of learning both important to the role and a wonderful challenge.