For Dallas CASA volunteers Cristina and Michael Swartz, partnering on their CASA cases was the plan from the start. Married for three years and each with a busy, full-time job, they thought sharing cases would ease the load. What they didn’t expect was the cases to draw them closer as a couple.
What brought you to Dallas CASA?
Michael: We had been looking for ways to give back and also get involved with the Dallas community. We attended the Champion of Children Award Dinner three years ago, and we immediately knew we wanted to get involved.
You’ve worked three cases together now. What keeps you involved?
Michael: The kids keep us coming back. All of the kids have been so sweet and positive no matter what is thrown at them.
Cristina: It’s the relationships we build with the children that keep us going. It is truly rewarding knowing we’re providing some comfort to these kids during a rough time in their lives and that they trust us enough to keep their best interests at heart.
Why work cases together?
Michael: We began working together because it’s easier to ensure we can make all of the visits, court hearings and events when there are two of us, but we really found that we like taking cases together because it gives us another activity to bond over.
Cristina: The scheduling helps since we’re both busy, but it’s the emotional part of sharing a case I value. Talking through the bad (and good!) days with someone who was there to experience it is great. We give each other different perspectives. I may be thinking of something one way, and he’ll see it a different way.
How do you keep going in tough times?
Michael: There are certainly some tough times, but they all melt away when you pull up and the kids are waiting at the door for you to show up. You’re reminded that they’re great kids looking for someone to talk to.
What are you able to do that makes cases go more smoothly?
Cristina: I have found being personable and polite to all parties that we work with, such as CPS, attorneys and parents, is most helpful. I believe being respectful of people’s schedules and feelings has helped us gain trust of everyone involved in the case.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Michael: I have truly loved being a CASA volunteer. I have met some of the most genuine people through Dallas CASA, and it’s helped reinforce my faith in humanity. It’s a small sacrifice of time for us, and we have received so much gratitude in return. It’s even better because we get to do it together.
Cristina: Michael said it, but being a CASA volunteer has really restored my faith in humanity. We’ve met such amazing people including foster parents, CPS caseworkers and GALs who selflessly care for these kids.