Volunteer Spotlight – Elizabeth Black

Meet Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Black got involved with Tulsa CASA after meeting our Training & Outreach Manager at a BOK Financial event for the Tulsa Area United Way. She has always thought about providing foster care, but was unsure how to get involved or if it would be a good fit with her current family and work demands. After the BOK event, she immediately signed up for our next CASA training session and feels it has been a perfect fit!

Elizabeth is a Quantitative Credit Risk Analyst for BOK Financial in Tulsa. Before returning to Tulsa in 2019, she spent almost 10 years teaching and working with children in STEM education programs before having children of her own. In addition to working with Tulsa CASA, Elizabeth hopes to get more involved with the STEM programs growing in and around Tulsa in the coming years.

Elizabeth is one of nine children and growing up as an eldest sibling, she spent a lot of time taking care of younger siblings as well as other children like neighbors and cousins. She never imagined she would have children herself, but now she and her husband Carl have 3 children and 2 dogs. In her spare time she likes to play golf, read, hike, and play video games with her kids. Fun fact: She is undefeated in Mario Kart! For now…

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

I have truly enjoyed being surrounded by people who are as passionate about a cause as I am. We are all working together to provide Tulsa children with a better future. This common goal brings a lot of energy and satisfaction to the work being done – even if the path can get pretty murky at times.

I regularly send texts and emails with those involved on the case – following up on home visits, ensuring services are being attended, checking in on the kids’ daily progress, and assisting the recently reunited family in identifying and accessing resources as they are needed. Children with a CASA can count on an advocate who objectively fights for their best interests through every change and challenge they face together. Tulsa children are not alone, because of Tulsa CASA’s.

On my current case, there were some very uncertain times and some very unexpected twists and turns. In less than 6 months, we moved from almost certain adoption to a sudden new placement and trial reunification. I will never forget the day I got the text that my CASA kids were starting trial reunification. I cried. Tears are not usually welcome, but these were tears of joy! My CASA kids were going home… and I helped make that happen.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Elizabeth has come into a case just before the case went to trial and quickly realized there were some significant biases going on with different parties in the case. When Elizabeth brought these issues to the attention of the Court, the case changed drastically. The children are now in trial reunification!

Elizabeth single-handedly and with great humility changed the entire outcome of this case for this family. She did so with grace, care, and an immense amount of active listening to every party involved. She is such a blessing to CASA, and I am deeply grateful for the time, energy, and effort she has put into making a difference in the lives of these children. – Cheryl Wright

Oklahoma CASA’s Commitment to Racial Justice

 

As an organization which strives to ensure all children and families have safe and positive futures, Oklahoma CASA grieves the recent events involving racism and violence in our country. We rededicate ourselves as an organization to furthering introspection and understanding of the history of institutional racism and the impacts within the child welfare, educational, health care and criminal justice systems which lead to disparate outcomes for children and families of color. Oklahoma CASA will continue to encourage the fierce and courageous conversations necessary to aid in the transformation of the child welfare system, and pledge to listen to the voices and leadership of those most impacted by injustice as we strive to become better advocates for all children and families. – Oklahoma CASA Association

June Anniversaries 

We have 24 volunteers celebrating their anniversary this month! Thank you for consistently advocating for your CASA kiddos – no matter the circumstances. Happy Anniversary June CASAs!

Volunteer Spotlight – Maureen Copp

Meet Maureen!

Maureen Copp and her husband John have lived in Tulsa for 25 of the past 28 years. In her free time, Maureen enjoys traveling with her husband and children when possible. She and John have four adult children who live in Tulsa, Hong Kong, Chicago and New York City. She also enjoys staying active through hiking, biking and exercising, doing crossword puzzles, cooking, and reading. A little known fact about Maureen is that she taught French for a few years!

Maureen got involved with Tulsa CASA in 2018. She has done a variety of other community work in the Tulsa area, including Reading Partners, Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities, St. Bernard Catholic and Bishop Kelley Advisory Council. She and her husband had been foster parents and Maureen was missing the work they did advocating for the children in their home. CASA was a good avenue for her to continue that mission but with a commitment that better fit their current situation. Maureen currently works with our Safe Babies Court Team, advocating for children aged 0-3.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

I like being part of such a caring, capable, and supportive team! CASA and SBCT are truly devoted to finding resources and services that help build strong families and protect children. CASA builds a network of advocates who are looking out for the best interest of children as they navigate the complex child welfare system, and who also want to end the cycle of abuse and neglect in Tulsa.

My work as a CASA varies from calls with DHS and families, to staffings and court hearings, but the best responsibility is meeting with the child. My favorite moments on a case are when I can witness a child reach their developmental milestones and build healthy and loving bonds!

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Maureen is a joy!  She has developed such a close relationship with her CASA child and the foster family through her advocacy efforts.  I always look forward to reading Maureen’s monthly Optima entries detailing her visits, because she shares her interactions with the child in a way that makes me feel as if I am right there with them.

Every milestone, every new step in the child’s life, Maureen is there to celebrate and share this beautiful child’s story. Maureen has helped expedite the adoption process when it was in danger of getting lost in the system. She is a phenomenal CASA advocate!

National Volunteer Week

Happy National Volunteer Week! Last year, we had 201 Court Appointed Special Advocates serving children in Tulsa County. This week, meet the volunteers who make our program so special! Head over to our “Meet the Volunteers” page to see some of our volunteer testimonials from this year. To every Tulsa CASA volunteer – THANK YOU for Changing A Childs Story and happy National Volunteer Week!

We Are All In This Together

It has been 3 weeks since Tulsa CASA officially suspended in-person visits to children and families. Some of our volunteers haven’t seen their CASA kiddos in a month or more! While social distancing is hard, our advocates have not missed a beat. They’ve even gotten quite creative in their virtual contacts with families, using apps and games over FaceTime to keep in contact and maintain connection. We just want to say THANK YOU to our amazing volunteers. Many of them are juggling work, “homeschooling”, family life, and CASA. We are so proud of the commitment and dedication they give to the families they work with everyday.

Volunteer Spotlight – Heather Streich

 

Meet Heather!

Heather Streich has lived in Tulsa for 26 years. She and her husband have been married for almost 27 years, and they have three children. Their oldest son just graduated from OSU, their 20-year-old son plays basketball at UCO, and their daughter is a junior at Jenks High School. They have a 12-year-old lab named Frisco and since the whole family is all under one roof for the time being due to COVID-19, they also have their son’s 1-year-old golden doodle, Brodie.

Heather is mostly a stay-at-home mom, and used to be a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She currently does premarital counseling for her church at First Baptist Tulsa. Aside from CASA, she has been involved in many areas of volunteerism. Heather and her husband have fostered six children, and participate in various activities within their church. Heather has been the chair for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk and also does community work with Unite My City.

In her free time, Heather enjoys playing tennis and organizing friends for supper. She got involved with CASA when a friend mentioned that they should attend a Tulsa CASA Lunch and Learn, because their kids were too old to need them as much anymore. She completed training in June 2019 and started on her first case in July. Heather works with our Safe Babies Court Team, ensuring the needs of children aged 0-3 are met expeditiously by the court system.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

Connecting with the kids and finding practical ways to help. Recently, I brought one of the boys’ bikes home to have my husband fix the chain. The boys I see love stories so I enjoy digging through my kids’ old books and sharing stories I used to read to them with my CASA kids.

I love when I see the children at court and they run up and practically tackle me, jumping in my arms. I am hoping the children will move from temporary to permanent placement with their mother this month.

CASA offers Tulsa a chance for very different people to get to know each other and learn to work together. In turn, we find out that we have a lot more in common than it appears. Find something that you enjoy and jump in to volunteer!

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Heather started her journey with CASA in July of 2019 and has been on the same case since then. She has developed a bond with not only the kiddos on her case but the mother as well. Heather is constantly in contact with the family, has assisted them through good and bad times, and fights for what is in the children’s best interest.

The impact Heather is making on her case is monumental and these kids are able to thrive because of her.  It is such a pleasure to get to work with Heather and she is an asset to our program. I feel so blessed that I get to be her advocate manager and witness the difference she is making in this world! – Kaitlin Brasher