Over the summer, my parents and I participated in a Superheroes 5K in Indianapolis that raised funds and awareness for their local CASA program. I drove down from Chicago to meet my parents in Indy because I support the cause and because I wanted to see my parents dress up like superheroes. They’re pretty adorable.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers are superheroes in my book. They act as friends and advocates to children involved in the court system. CASA’s vision is “to protect children who have experienced neglect and abuse by providing them a voice in court, a safe and permanent home, and an opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive.”

Director of Programs Beatriz Valdez says “CASA of Cook County is fortunate to have committed volunteers, however, we are currently looking for diverse volunteers that our youth can relate to. CASA volunteers are everyday leaders/heroes with the potential to make a lasting impact in the life of a youth in care.”

Here are two of the success stories from the Cook County program, shared on their website with the names of the kids changed:

“After being in the system for four years, 17-year-old Courtney said she wanted to attend her court appearance, but couldn’t bring herself to attend. After many meetings, Courtney’s advocate discovered that Courtney was extremely afraid to be in the same room with her abusive stepfather. By teaming up with Special Services, Courtney’s advocate was able to arrange a separate court date that wouldn’t include her stepfather. Now Courtney is happy to be able to participate in her case since it will ultimately decide her future.”

“Jacqui was stuck in the middle of an intense custody battle. She’d been living with an aunt since she was taken away from her home when only three months old, due to her mother’s drug abuse. But Jacqui’s father had always wanted to be a part of her life. Unfortunately, the aunt and father weren’t on speaking terms and therefore not able to resolve the custody issue on their own. Once she learned of the problem, Jacqui’s advocate quickly stepped in and set up a meeting between everyone involved. Together, they helped develop a visitation plan that allowed Jacqui to spend time with her father. Thanks to this plan, the father was able to become Jacqui’s full-time guardian and things are going very well.”

Working as a CASA volunteer is time intensive, but it makes a huge difference in the life of young rebelles.

In September, CASA of Cook County celebrates its 30-year anniversary. They’re having a special fundraising event at The Winter Garden of the Harold Washington Library on Sept. 23, 2016. Meet and support these superheroes and perhaps even become one.

Jera writes about sexuality, spirituality, and social justice. They are the author of Just the Tip, a queer-friendly, sex-positive, relationship advice column and the editor of Sacred and Subversive,...

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