Child Advocates of Silicon Valley

In My Words: A CASA Volunteer Story by Kate Watson

VanessaIt's simply impossible to say just a couple things about one amazing woman who came into my life to give my world a change. She has pushed me to try things out of my comfort zone; she inspires me each and every day with such an amazing charisma. I'm thankful for having someone so caring. Thank you so much Katie for dedicating time and letting me be part of your life." – Vanessa, former foster youth commenting on her CASA Kate Watson

Vanessa was 17 when I began working with her. I knew she was warming up to me when she invited me to attend a family celebration. Unfortunately, when I arrived I parked in a lot that closed early and my car got trapped.

I think seeing me go through that—making a silly mistake and recovering from it—helped her learn to trust me. Vanessa and I often talk about how blessed I feel to be part of her life as well. In 2011, my husband and I had just moved back to the Bay Area for his work and I needed something meaningful to apply myself to beyond home and business. Child Advocates of Silicon Valley became that something.

Through training I met wonderful people, a few of whom are still friends today. When I read cases after my second interview, there was something about Vanessa's story that spoke to me. Of course, I had doubts; I didn't know if I had what she needed.

She was going to be a mom and, because I don't have children, I wondered if she'd be better served by someone who could share parenting experience with her. I decided to sleep on it. Throughout the rest of the day, the name Vanessa kept appearing in my consciousness.

My evening Zumba class, for example, had a substitute teacher with the name. I took it all as a sign and called my supervisor to move forward. Vanessa wasn't sure about me at first. She had a lot of professionals in her life and I was from outside her culture.

She had just given birth to a healthy baby girl when I met her and was observing cuarentena, something I'd never heard of before.

It took patience, consistency, and genuine interest in her to develop the relationship we now have. As the necklace she gave me last Christmas says, we will be "forever friends."

Kate Watson has been a CASA since 2011 and is also a member of the board of directors at Child Advocates