After raising her three sons, Preston Hollow resident Cathy Manning hasn’t slowed down her quest to grow and learn new things. Since becoming a Dallas CASA volunteer in 2014, Cathy has worked six cases involving 17 children.
What do you tell people who say they couldn’t be an advocate because it’s too hard?
I tell them “Sure you could!” I also know it’s not for everybody. But I know most of us don’t give ourselves credit for the ability to do things we feel passionate about. If you’re passionate about helping children you’ll find a way within yourself to find the good or the positive.
What keeps you going?
Every case is so different, and it’s the ability to be constantly learning that keeps me motivated and excited. Obviously there are a lot of commonalities but every case has its own personality and brings a new tweak in your skill set. With every case, your knowledge of the legal system, the educational system, mental health care system or the welfare/food stamp/Medicare system grows. There’s always something in a case that wasn’t in the case prior that allows you to continue to grow.
Is there a certain case that sticks with you? A child you still think about?
The one that sticks with me is Tre. He was a shaken baby, and he has permanent brain damage as a result of that injury. He will always tug at my heartstrings because of the nature of the case. I just have such feelings for him and his caregiver.
Is there one thing that makes you know CASA is important?
With Tre, because his medical needs were so great I was fairly instrumental in getting him to and from a lot of doctor appointments. I also helped organize doctor appointments so they would be back to back instead of six hours apart. Tre’s caregiver works and has to take a whole day off whenever he has a medical appointment, which is often. I showed her she does have a voice when making these appointments and she can say “I need appointments one hour apart, not six hours apart.” I also guided her to combine appointments into one day instead of multiple different days. She became a better advocate both for him and herself.
Has being a Dallas CASA volunteer changed you?
I went into it because I like children but also because it was a system I didn’t know a lot about it. I wanted to know more about the legal part of it. For me, it’s brought to the forefront that children’s needs must come first. The more CASAs and the more people who get involved on behalf of these children the better.