This Month's Volunteer Spotlight!

Tom Whelan of Union

On his CASA youth:
'He's curious about the world,
and it’s fun to spend time with him.”

Since assigned to his CASA case less than two years ago, Tom has seen his youth move six times to varying foster placements and shelters, and switch to three different schools.

The self-employed real estate appraiser admires the boy’s resiliency, adding the teen is very smart and plans to go to college and become an attorney. “I go to all of his meetings and court dates and make sure he gets everything he needs.”

Tom says his own mother and father have been most influential on his life, and he wants to share that gift. “They worked very hard to give me a stable, happy childhood and I tried to do the same for my own kids.” With his own 22-year-old twins grown, he’s able to serve as a CASA volunteer the way he wants -- including making himself available by phone 24 hours a day.

Their face-to-face time includes various activities like playing basketball; visits always include food, and it's usually pizza. “We have our favorite places and it’s a good time to talk about what’s going on in his life, at school or with his foster family. He's curious about the world and it's fun to spend time with him.” 

Like his CASA youth, Tom is also curious about the world. He's traveled to more than 70 countries, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Elbrus in Russia and Jebel Toubkal in Morocco. In September, he completed his third Ironman competition, completing a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run in less than 17 hours. And did we mention he's produced and acted in numerous films and shorts as well?

Even with a plethora of interests, Tom felt he had more to give and being a CASA was a no-brainer. When asked why so few males are in the advocate ranks, he says, “I think a lot of guys assume there is nothing they can offer because they’re not social workers, therapists or teachers, or don't have kids of their own.” That’s not the case, he insists.

“CASAs are just regular people, the training is excellent and there’s support after. Kids end up in foster care through no fault of their own. They need someone to encourage them and consistently remind them that despite the past, they can have a bright future.”
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