Thursday, February 29, 2024

You Can Change a Child’s Story

February 12, 2024 by  
Filed under Community

BY KEITH E. WINGATE

Casa volunteer Keith Wingate and DK

Four years ago, my life was transformed when I was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer for the Eighth Judicial District Court here in Las Vegas — to advocate for an abused, neglected or abandoned child. 

As a CASA volunteer, I am responsible for making recommendations to the court about the safety, permanence, and well-being of my assigned child. The role has empowered me to become a quarterback for this child’s care — by researching the facts of the case to get a full understanding of the situation at hand, collaborating with other parties on the case to ensure the case is progressing as planned, and being the voice of the child as to his/her wishes and his/her best interests. 

My first assignment paired me with my kid, DK, when he was 13 years old. DK and I have grown very close as we navigate his teenage years in preparation for adulthood and independent living. DK is a well-mannered, focused kid who has hopes of being successful in a career in computer science, technology and gaming. He hopes to become a gaming animator and developer and is currently taking classes to put him on track. In addition to being his CASA volunteer, I am also his Educational Decision Maker, where I advocate and make decisions on the best educational options for him. 

It has been easy to integrate DK into my life as he has often become a companion when it’s time to run errands or complete coursework for a certification course that I am taking. We often take cultural excursions to the library, various parks and attractions throughout the region. I have learned so much from him over the years and marvel at his courage, resilience, and mental toughness. 

I encourage you to join me as a CASA volunteer. The goal is to have one CASA volunteer to serve every child in foster care and we are only 1/3 of the way there. Giving back is its only reward and I appeal to you to make a difference in a child’s life that is both meaningful and purposeful. The time that you invest in a child could change the trajectory of their lives and make the difference between their success and failure. 

Wingate is a CASA volunteer and educational surrogate.

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