Marypaz Medina became a sworn child advocate in 2019. Since then, she’s advocated on five different cases. A Garland resident, Marypaz immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico, and she uses her Spanish skills to reach children.
What brought you to Dallas CASA?
While looking for volunteer opportunities for my internship hours, I researched many organizations. The mission of Dallas CASA stood out to me. I was fortunate enough to be raised by two loving parents. It breaks my heart knowing not all kids have what I had. Dallas CASA gives me a chance to be a voice for these kids.
Do you have one moment from one of your cases that showed you the value of a CASA volunteer?
I still remember my first CASA case with a child who only speaks Spanish. When I met him, I said “Hola!” and his face changed from a sad to a happy face. It was right there when I knew I made a connection with him. From that first day he saw me as his voice and it filled my soul.
As a Spanish-speaker, what are you able to bring to your cases?
As an immigrant, I know exactly the struggle and how the language barrier can emotionally affect someone. I came to this country without knowing the language or culture, and it was very difficult… but I always had my family by my side. I have had cases where the children don’t know the language or the culture and on top of that they’re not with their families. Having an advocate who understands their needs and culture can be a real blessing to them. They feel more comfortable when someone can understand them.
What do you see as the most helpful thing a CASA volunteer can do?
They can change the path of a child for the better. Becoming a CASA volunteer is truly the most wonderful experience I’ve ever had.
What is the hardest part of being a CASA volunteer and how do you deal with that?
I have to be honest – being an advocate is not always easy. The most difficult part of the role is holding back emotion. When I first read the case files, the first thing I want to do is take the child to lunch or dinner or buy them gifts – anything to make their life better.
What about being a CASA volunteer has surprised you?
What’s surprising to me is how dedicated and thoughtful most people in the system are. Each Child Protective Services caseworker can have more than 15 children on their caseload, and attorneys have even more. It can be very frustrating to deal with some of these situations day in and day out, and I am very impressed with the dedication of people I’ve come across.
What do you say to friends who might want to volunteer?
Being a volunteer has changed my life in so many ways, and I’ve become a more caring and better person in every way. We need more bilingual Spanish-speaking volunteers. So many of the kids in foster care are Spanish speakers, and they need bilingual advocates who understand their language and culture.