During National Volunteer Month, ProKids paused celebrate its volunteers, particularly those who have given five years or more.
There are about 270 ProKids CASA Volunteers; more than 60 have been with ProKids, advocating for abused and neglected children, for more than five years.
Board President John Hands said their commitment adds up to 508 years of service, directly impacting 583 children.
“When you consider that in our country, one out of three volunteers do not volunteer for more than one year, your longevity becomes even more impressive,” Hands said, noting that nearly a quarter of ProKids volunteers serve five years or more.
Executive Director Tracy Cook said it was good to take a “purposeful pause” and reflect on the impact each of the volunteers has made. “Sometimes you are the only person not paid to be in the life” of these children, who are often in foster care. “Your presence in their life speaks volumes to a child about their value.”
Many of the volunteers shared their perspective during the luncheon, including Tim Dierker, who has served for 15 years. “Success with these children can be elusive,” Dierker said. “But I often wonder how much worse it would have been for these kids without ProKids.”
Dierker added that his experience has filled him with gratitude for what many take for granted: family.
CASA Volunteer Karen Garrety said that in her work, she has been privileged to help family members stay connected with one another, even when everything is falling apart. “Children need to know they are loved,” Garrety said.
While CASA Volunteers are not mentors and respect boundaries between themselves and the families they serve, often the CASA Volunteer is the only adult who is a consistent presence for these children. Volunteer Margaret Kremer, who is 5-foot-tall, said that when she went to Detroit to see her ProKids youth happily settled in his new home “he bent in half — he’s 6-f00t-6 — to hug me and exclaim, ‘you came to see me!'”