October 2023 Advocate Spotlight: Mary Levesque
We invite you to meet Mary Levesque, nominated by Case Supervisor Mike Quinn.
“Mary Levesque became an Advocate two years ago and has had 5 cases, advocating for 12 children from newborns to teens,” Mike said. “She’s a natural Advocate, connecting immediately with the children and their families, building trust. She brings insight, compassion and empathy to every case.”
We asked Mary to share her experiences as an Advocate.
Is there anything unique about your background that contributes to your approach to advocacy?
My professional career was built around Finance and IT, which tend to be very structured, black and white areas. The work for CASA is completely opposite! But structure, follow-through, and consistency can be valuable for these families and children. My extended family includes stepfathers, stepmothers, stepchildren, and some with mental illness—those experiences certainly help in understanding the challenges some of these families face.
How did you become interested in volunteering as AN aDVOCATE?
For the last few years before retiring, I drove past a large billboard that advertised CASA. Every morning I would see it and think “when I retire, I want to do that.” The advertisement worked and invoked such empathy for children in a hard place.
Did you have any reservations about volunteering?
When I started the training and realized what all the role entails, I was a bit freaked out! I couldn’t see myself being able to manage such difficult situations. However, the training received and the support provided from day one really helped. We bring a lot of positivity to the situation, from the perspective of the children and their parents, so the relationships are generally really valued and positive, making the work so rewarding.
Explain in your own words the work you do as a CASA aDVOCATE. Why is it essential for a child in care?
We are a consistent, reliable, positive force for the child and usually the family. They will see us over and over again, possibly across multiple foster situations and amid family turmoil. The resources available to us, such as availability of the CASA gardens and TBRI® playroom for visits and toy room for books, toys, clothing, etc., help the children and families associate us with positive support. It’s so important for a child in care to have a person they feel is there just for them.
What has surprised you most about your aDVOCACY work?
How hard and important it is. And how rewarding.
What has been the most difficult aspect of being an advocate?
The most difficult aspect is seeing the hard places people come from. Generally, the parents are a product of a pretty rough childhood themselves. The most rewarding aspect is our ability to help the child, and in most cases, the whole family. The children grow to love and trust us, but also many of the family members realize we are genuinely there to help their kids. And no matter what their personal situation is, they love their kids and appreciate someone else looking out for them.
What would you like the community to know about children in care?
There are children out there who need support. If we can support them now, there’s a good chance to end a negative cycle and lift a generation up.
What have you learned as an advocate?
Children are trusting and resilient—if we can genuinely get them help and into a positive situation, they can flourish.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
It’s a reoccurring joy to go visit a family and see how happy the kids are to see you!
anything else you want to share about casa?
It is a well-run organization, with amazing resources. Everyone I’ve met is genuine in their passion and love for the children; it’s really amazing to be a part of the team.