by Allison Hurtado, Community Outreach Specialist, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
It’s no secret that when you volunteer you often receive more than you give, but many experts agree that the benefits from doing good for others are both emotional and physical.
Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression, according to a report from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The group also found that older volunteers are the most likely to see greater benefits from volunteering.
Many studies have shown that volunteering contributes to a person’s sense of purpose. This is especially important for older adults who may be experiencing the loss of a major role like being a full-time employee or parent.
Volunteering also builds social connections, which lead to higher levels of happiness and self-esteem and reduces stress. Community connections and friendships can lead to new opportunities for individuals. As volunteers become more involved in their communities their brains are challenged to find new solutions, and physical health can improve as volunteers focus on the needs of others.
These benefits are seen often among Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers in Yavapai County. CASA volunteers are trained to become officers of the court and are appointed to serve on the case of a child in foster care. These volunteers become more involved in their community as they visit with their appointed child or children monthly, gather information about the case, and submit written reports to the judge to help bring the child’s story to life. Ultimately a CASA volunteer’s recommendations help the judge decide what would be in the best interest of the child and can lead to that child finding a permanent, loving home.
“Our volunteers usually get involved, because they are eager to help a child, but the impact is so much greater,” said Quinci Castleberry, program manager for the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program of Yavapai County. “They get the chance to learn about the entire child welfare system, and they gain a new perspective on the needs in our community. I think they also learn that this work could not be done without their help, and that knowledge is so gratifying.”
There is always a need for more CASA volunteers in Yavapai County.
To become a CASA volunteer, you must be at least 21 years of age and:
- Fill out an application.
- Attend an in-person interview.
- Successfully complete the background check process.
- Attend 30 hours of pre-service training.
- You can also learn more about the program by visiting: CASAofYavapaiCounty.org or by calling 928-771-3165.
- No specific degree or experience is required.