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Allison Perry was sworn in as a CASA volunteer in April 2011. Her experience with CASA, however, began more than a decade ago.
Allison had a CASA herself as a child. Her mother was addicted to prescription medication and was separated from her mom for this reason.
“I had to talk to so many different people like social workers, guardian ad litems,” Allison said. “It was so overwhelming and everybody was doing it because it was their job. It didn’t seem like they cared.”
Allison said that she had always previously lied about her mother’s problems. She was afraid of her family being torn apart or worse, going in to foster care.
“When my CASA came to talk to me, she just wanted to get to know me as a person… Her goal was to keep my family together. I don’t think anyone else had stressed that to me. She made my goals seemed really important.”
Allison said she knew she wanted to give back to the program she feels changed her life in so many ways. After going through the 35-hours of intensive training, Allison is now a Richmond CASA volunteer. She says it’s so important that children have access to a CASA who is solely focused on their cases. It ensures that nothing slips through the cracks.
“I had someone there for me to show me things could get better,” Allison said. “She let me believe I could do anything I set my mind to. I wanted to be able to do that for another child.”
So far, Allison has only had one case to work on and it has become increasingly complex.
The child’s mother she represented was abusing drugs. The adoption process has become very difficult, too.
“One of the really valuable things I have been able to do is pay attention to details to help the child,” Allison said. “I learned that other people were using the child’s social security number for tax purposes. I was able to press for that to be fixed so that she could have her credit fixed for down the line when she wants to get financial aid and money that she needs to attend college and be successful.
“I personally feel like this is my mission in my life,” said Allison, who also works for Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. “CASA is just one way I can protect children. I plan to go to law school and be a judge. I will never lose sight of the CASA volunteer that changed my life.”