Kathy O’Hara came to Dallas CASA after many years as an educator. She’s brought her education knowledge to the advocate role, and the children Dallas CASA serves have been the beneficiaries. Kathy’s CASA supervisor says she appreciates the way Kathy always makes sibling visits happen and is willing to travel out of town for visits, if needed. “I especially love having her with school-aged kids,” her supervisor said. “Kathy did some individualized tutoring on a previous case which really helped that child immensely.”
Tell me about one moment when you felt CASA made a difference:
My most recent case just ended in an adoption of a 12-year-old girl. At our last visit, she said “who will I talk to now?” It took my breath away. The beautiful thing is that now she has a mother. I was just in her life until she could get that person who would be her mother. To me, that is CASA’s real value.
What brought you to Dallas CASA?
I retired as a teacher and knew I needed to do something purposeful. I had heard about CASA through our church and a friend. I stay with CASA because it continues to give me purpose.
Has being a CASA taught you anything?
Information gathering is very important in putting the pieces together when you’re a CASA. I’ve also learned to be more assertive, which is not an easy thing for me. But when I need to be assertive for the children I’m advocating for, I will.
Do you have one case that has stuck with you?
On one case I worked, I advocated for a brother and a sister who’d been severely mistreated. In particular, the boy was struggling. He had special needs and enormous behavioral issues. He was in and out of psychiatric hospitals. It showed me firsthand what neglect and abuse could do to a child. It was the first time I could connect Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to a child, and that still weighs on me today.
Do you have any tips to share with other advocates?
Getting the attorneys and caseworkers to communicate with you is critical. Unfortunately they have many other cases. You need to make yourself valuable to them. I find being the one to have all the information is really appreciated.