I intended to write a post yesterday with a bit more about EJ Hanagan and Lucy H Delaney. As is the theme for the week, note the word intended. But that's okay, because these ladies do a much better job of introducing themselves than I ever could. If you missed it, here's EJ's post for my Leave Your Mark series. I saved Lucy's for this week, the week her debut novel is launching. I count myself lucky to have a front row seat to Lucy's efforts to make the world a better place. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. ~Heather
Several years ago, when my husband and I started this journey, we became foster parents. One of our children, our eldest daughter, was adopted from the foster system. The system is grueling and proved too much for our family so we opted to relinquish our license after a painful ordeal. I pray that the children we served will remember us with fondness but we couldn't continue. We let our license go but I couldn't ignore the plight of high-risk kids like those in foster care. I was drawn to them so I looked into other ways to help and happened upon information about CASA.
In Waiting on Justin, I highlight CASA because I truly believe that they are making a positive difference in the lives of some of the most high-risk children in America. The CASA program is a national organization made up largely of volunteers from all walks of life. CASAs, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, are trained to work with children in foster care. After a person has taken CASA training they are sworn in by a commissioner or judge and become an officer of the court. It is the duty of a CASA to report to the judge or commissioner what is in the best interests of the children they serve. Sometimes CASAs are confused with Social Workers but there is a significant difference between the two. A Social Worker is assigned by the state (and reassigned just as frequently), they come and go in the life of a child and while they do look after what is best for foster children they are also tracking parents, foster homes and reporting to the state. A CASA is assigned to one child for their entire time in the foster system. Sometimes the CASA is the only consistent figure in a foster child's life.
I have been a CASA for our local Chelan-Douglas CASA program for the last three years now. The time commitment is the biggest challenge for me, others struggle most with writing reports, gathering information, or relating to people within the case. Most cases require about ten hours of volunteer time a month. It is difficult for me to juggle the time commitment of my case with my family's needs, a full-time job, a budding career as an author and other obligations but I feel strongly that I can and am making a difference by being a consistent figure in the life of a child. If everyone would take time for one child, or one cause they believe in, we really can make the world a better place. I've got my starfish, what's yours?
If you're interested in more information on the CASA program please call:
1-800-628-3233 or visit them online at
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected call! You can remain anonymous and could save a child a lifetime of pain.
1-800-4-A-CHILD or visit them online at:
How am I making the world a better place?
There's an essay by Loren Eiseley called The Star Thrower and within it an excerpt that's been made famous. My favorite adaptation is simply called The Starfish Story, and it has had a profound impact on my life. It goes like this:
“Once upon a time, there was a cynical man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up and question the dancer. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. The writer came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?" The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean." "I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the writer. To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die." Upon hearing this, the cynical man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!" At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one.”
From the moment I read it, I was changed because I was the cynical writer.
Even within the tiny limits of my life there was too much hurt and pain to change. To think of the suffering of the whole, wide, world broke my heart but how could I, a simple, white, American woman possibly make a difference for all of those suffering and hurting? I could see no way. I was a Christian and had a deep, longing desire to share God's love but the pain was too big, the injustice to great, the suffering too immense for me to possibly make a difference. No matter what I believe, I am only one person. What could I possibly do to make the world a better place?
Then I found this story, and remembered the Star Thrower from my own life. He was my Grandpa Al. My Grandpa was a simple man but he was the greatest man I ever knew and he dedicated his life to God and the starfish he found. He didn't change the world, but he changed hundreds and hundreds of lives, one person at a time. He stopped to pick them up and give them a toss into the living water. He made a difference for them.
I realized that though I couldn't change the world, I could be like him, I could be a Star Thrower, I can make a difference... and that is what I hope to do with the stories I write and the volunteer work I do. In the current series of romance stories I'm working on, I'll bring attention to notable organizations that are making a difference, one life at a time. And, personally, I have chosen to make a difference by helping to keep kids safe. I grew up in some less than ideal situations. It could have been much worse, true, but I carry scars from my childhood which will never completely heal, this side of heaven. Because of this I have decided to focus my volunteer work on children. I can help keep kids safe.