Volunteer Spotlight – Jodi Pass

Meet Jodi!

Jodi Pass has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate with Tulsa CASA for almost one year. Previously a CASA volunteer in Texas 20 years ago, Jodi kept seeing the CASA logo in the window of our office after moving to Tulsa and thought about how rewarding it would be to become a CASA again. She was already looking for an organization to volunteer with that supported children in the community, and we believe it was meant to be!

Originally from Chicago, Jodi still has close family there. Her family is a bit spread out, with siblings and nieces living in San Antonio, Denver, Wichita, and Bartlesville. Jodi loves to be outdoors and she enjoys activities like hiking, biking, running, kayaking, and boating in her spare time.

A little known fact about Jodi is that she volunteered in the Peace Corps and served in Ethiopia! She also volunteers at the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, gives blood/platelets several times a year, and is involved in Moms Demand Action, an organization that works to help prevent gun violence.

Professionally, Jodi works for an education non-profit called City Year. She manages a team of AmeriCorps members who are tutors, mentors, and role models to support TPS students in their course performance, attendance, and Social Emotional Development.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

The first time my CASA child hugged me, it made me feel like she finally knew (and truly believed) that I was really there for her. The most fulfilling aspect of the work is helping to ensure that my CASA child’s needs are being met and knowing that she has another important adult in her corner that cares about her well-being.

I take my role very seriously and it’s important to me that everyone on the case does everything we can to support her. Visiting with my CASA child is my top priority. My visits with her have been limited since COVID-19 precautions took effect and those are my favorite part of being a CASA, so we are looking forward to starting porch visits soon!

There are so many hardworking and dedicated people and families in Tulsa, but unfortunately, there are also a lot of families that are struggling. CASA helps advocate for children that are thrust into the foster care system, and CASA volunteers ensure that their physical, emotional, and academic needs are being met.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Jodi is such a joy to work with! She puts so much so much thought, time and effort into the child she serves, it is unreal. Despite only being a CASA since October 2019, she is a great example of how to be a compassionate advocate.

Her case is not simple and involves many variables, but she continues to be there for her kiddo despite the many barriers. She always keeps me updated, and I am so grateful she is serving the children in our community! – Chloe Baldwin

Volunteer Spotlight – Sharon Clark

Meet Sharon!

Sharon Clark in one of our newer advocates, who has made a big impact on the family she serves and amongst our staff! Sharon was born in the Caribbean and has lived in Tulsa County for 1 year. Upon moving to Tulsa, Sharon saw CASA billboards, heard our ads on the radio, and was compelled to get involved with CASA as it was a good fit for her. Sharon attended a Lunch and Learn in September 2019 and completed her training in October with the hopes to make a difference in the outcome of a case.

Most of Sharon’s family still lives on the East Coast but her son, daughter-in-law and one grandson are local in Oklahoma, as well as some of her sons’ in-law’s. Sharon has 2 other sons and 7 grandchildren back east. She also has her Woodlake Church family here in Tulsa, and a granddog named Moose. Through her time living on the East Coast and since moving to Tulsa, Sharon has been involved in a variety of community work such as Reading Partners, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Advocacy, First Connection Program, Patient & Community Outreach, cancer support groups, singles groups, and she leads a small group of high school girls at Woodlake Church.

Sharon has been medically disabled from Multiple Myeloma (Blood Cancer) since 2015. Prior to her diagnosis, she worked as a Licensed Insurance Agent and holds a BS in Behavioral Science and an MS in Administration of Justice from Wilmington University in New Castle, Delaware. While attending treatments for Multiple Myeloma and volunteering with her church and other organizations, you can see why Sharon is such a special volunteer to us – she never misses a beat with her CASA case. When her name was nominated for the Volunteer Spotlight for this month, it was a unanimous decision from our staff! When she has extra spare time, Sharon loves traveling, reading, writing, cooking, listening to music, watching movies, and advocating for better benefits for cancer patients.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

I enjoy the camaraderie among the Safe Babies Court Team to allow for the best outcome. I feel privileged to know that the Judge values the input from CASA and the difference we can make in the outcome of a case. CASA offers the opportunity to have extended objective scrutiny and oversight of all involved in the case to be able to reach the best outcome for the child. There is more opportunity to observe and objectively see and interview all parties and aspects of the case more frequently than the DHS worker is able, further providing documentation for the judge to make a unified decision.

My current responsibilities in a day for CASA usually begins with checking in with my Advocate Manager, communicating with DHS to get their updates, contacting the natural parents to offer any support or address their treatment plan, and calling or video chatting with the foster parents and child. My favorite moments are when I see or video chat with the kiddo on my case and how happy she is. I love watching all the milestones she reaches and when she hears my voice or sees my face, she smiles and tries to grab the phone!

It is very rewarding to know that any contribution to our community as a volunteer will only better our lives and the community we serve and live in. Find whatever you are passionate about and get involved in something that will make a difference in other’s lives, the community, and your own life. Just Do It! Make a difference!

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Sharon has been on her case since December 2019. She has truly shown what it means to be a CASA in that time. Any hurdle she comes across, both personally and in the case, she remains diligent and ensures her kiddo is taken care of!

She has worked persistently to build a relationship with the natural parents and continues to support them even when things are difficult. Her efforts are always in the best interest of her kiddo. She remains unbiased and will admit when she is having a hard time with the case. I am so grateful to have Sharon as a CASA advocate! – Kelsey Dildy

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!

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

Volunteer Spotlight – Tracy Roberson

Meet Tracy!

Tracy Roberson knew for years that she wanted to be involved with CASA. After her youngest daughter went off to college and some of her other volunteer commitments were finished, she had time to freely devote to CASA and completed training in June 2019.

Tracy grew up in Tulsa but lived in Norman for 11 years until returning to the 918 in 1991. Since returning, she has been involved with various different organizations in a volunteer capacity. Tracy has also volunteered with Meals on Wheels, Bixby Educational Endowment Foundation, Bixby Outreach Center, and Call Rape.

Tracy has a cat named Holly and 3 daughters; Perri is 26 and lives in LA, Peyton is 23 and lives in OKC, and her youngest daughter Quinn is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma.

Tracy was a stay-at-home mom while her children were growing up, but prior to that she was the Director of Student Services at the University Center at Tulsa (now OSU-Tulsa) and was Assistant Director of Student Development and Sorority Advisor at the University of Oklahoma. It’s safe to say that being a Sooner runs in their family!

When Tracy has free time outside of volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her children and friends, playing tennis, and traveling.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

The relationships with the kids, of course. It’s definitely gratifying to get big smiles and hugs from the kids, feeling like they’re happy to see me.

My current CASA kiddo is in an intensive inpatient treatment facility and has inconsistent face-to-face visitors. I try to provide weekly visits where she can take a break from life for a bit and just be a kid, while also reinforcing positive behavior for her. CASA offers love, security and safety to Tulsa’s children in foster care.

My favorite moment on a case was when I would visit my CASA child at school, during recess and lunch. One day when the children were lining up for lunch, a boy in her class that she had mentioned was mean to her jumped in front of her in the lunch line. I asked if he meant to jump in front of her, and he quickly moved back behind her where he was supposed to be. Well, my little girl told him I was her attorney…I’m pretty sure none of the second graders (including her) knew what an attorney or a CASA were, but she certainly said it with a lot of authority!

I also love working with my advocate manager, Chloe. She goes above and beyond to give support and encouragement. She makes me feel as if my questions and my case were the only things she had to worry about!

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Tracy has only been an advocate since July, but she has already been an integral part of two cases. From the very beginning it was obvious that she was going to be a dedicated advocate.

She is kind, dependable and always shows up to meetings, visits, hearings or wherever she is needed. She is constantly surprising me with the amount of thought, effort and care she puts into her cases. When she serves her kiddos, she is absolutely all-in and goes the extra mile to make them feel special and wanted.

Once her first case closed, she jumped right back in and asked to serve another child! AND she drives an hour and a half almost every week to visit her CASA kiddo! She knows being present and showing up is the best way to advocate for them.

It is an absolute pleasure to work with Tracy as a team, and she keeps me informed about every step. I am so thankful she has volunteered her time to serve these children in our community! – Chloe Baldwin

Volunteer Spotlight – Dayna Applegate

Meet Dayna!

Dayna Applegate has been a CASA volunteer since September 2018. She describes herself as a major book junkie and she also enjoys doing yoga and playing outside with her children in her spare time. She and her husband, Levi, have three children ranging in age from 4-8 years old.

Dayna is a registered nurse and also volunteers at “Parents Night Out” quarterly for foster and adoptive parents. Dayna says that she has always had a heart for children caught up in the foster care system and wanted to find a way to get involved.

She didn’t know a lot about CASA, but she has a friend who volunteers in another state. So she called her friend to ask some questions, attended a Lunch and Learn at Tulsa CASA, and signed up for training. She says “I was hooked!” We are so glad she decided to take the next step and pursue certification as a Court Appointed Special Advocate!

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

I enjoy the chance to be one more person in a child’s life that lets them know they are important and they are worthy of love. CASA offers support and stability to one of our most vulnerable populations when their world is being flipped upside down.

My favorite moment on a case was when I visited the family for the first time after the children had been reunited with their mother. I loved seeing the joy on all of their faces to be back together again!

If you are looking to volunteer in the community, there is something out there for every passion and every personality. Talk to people you know, ask around on Facebook, and most people will be able to point you towards an opportunity.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

What can I say about Dayna that hasn’t already been said? She is such a phenomenal advocate who does the absolute best on her case. Dayna has been a CASA less than two years and she had no hesitation in taking her second case when her first case ended.

I enjoy being Dayna’s advocate manager because she’s always in contact with me, making sure her CASA kiddos have everything they need. Dayna shows up for every hearing, even if it lasts for hours! She has a fun and vibrant personality, and I can only imagine she uses that when she visits her CASA children.

Dayna is one of those rare advocates we find who gives this work her all, and goes above and beyond to make a difference in the life of a child. – Kristen Dake

Volunteer Spotlight – Jayne Ash

Meet Jayne!

Jayne Ash has been a CASA volunteer since 2017. As previous foster parents, she and her husband Carlton witnessed first hand the problem that CPS had with work load and limited staff. They had a foster child who’s CASA was instrumental in getting her to permanency, which showed Jayne how important a CASA can be in the life of a child.

Jayne is a realtor with Chinowth and Cohen REALTORS and is a former classroom teacher and instructional coach. She and Carlton have two grown children, Jeremy and Lauren, and a Westie Poo named Laynie.

When she is not showing houses or visiting her CASA kiddos, she enjoys walking Laynie, spending time with family, traveling and reading. She has been on multiple mission trips to Mexico and Central America, and volunteers at schools and church.

She is also an aunt to 14 nieces and nephews that have been adopted into her husband’s family through foster care.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

The children, of course! It is such a joy to watch them grow and learn. It’s the best feeling in the world when they see me and run to give me a hug.

One of my favorite moments was the adoption of my first baby girl. Another was when I finally gained the trust of a natural parent. I loved seeing her tear down her walls and begin opening up to work her plan. Her hard work and success has been inspiring and very rewarding.

CASA is the one stable force in the lives of children and the one who is consistently there through a very traumatic time in their life. A CASA can see the entire picture of the situation and truly make a difference. There are so many people in need . . . the littlest thing can make the greatest difference.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Jayne does a tremendous job advocating for the children on her case. She has gone the extra mile to make sure they are safe and getting the services they need.

Jayne has maintained an open line of communication with the parents, and they rely on her for advice and moral support.

As they moved into trial reunification, she has been an invaluable source of help to the family, ensuring they have transportation, suitable daycare, and medical care. Jayne is an incredibly selfless and dedicated CASA volunteer! — Jalynn Youngberg

 

Volunteer Spotlight – Jeri Breedlove

Meet Jeri!

Jeri Breedlove completed Tulsa CASA’s pre-service training in November 2018, and is celebrating her 1 year CASA-versary this month!

Jeri has previously worked at Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health and as a Children’s Case Manager at Tulsa Women and Children’s center. As a Children’s Case Manager she would sometimes work with CASA, but didn’t know a lot about the program.

After being a stay-at-home mom for 14 years, she really started to miss working with children. She saw a CASA commercial and felt a calling to look into it more. After attending a Lunch and Learn, she signed up that day!

Jeri has been advocating for children aged 0-3 on our Safe Babies Court Team docket since December 2018. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Jeri has lived in Tulsa for over 15 years. She has been married to her husband for 17 years and together they have a 14 year-old son and an 11 year-old daughter.

Aside from being a Court Appointed Special Advocate, Jeri is often volunteering at her children’s school and teaching Children’s Sunday School at church.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

CASA offers Tulsa families a second chance with better outcomes. Some cases are harder than others, but when you can be the voice for a child who doesn’t get to have a say in what’s best for them, and to make a positive impact in their life, it’s all worth it.

The day the family I work with finally entered trial reunification was my favorite moment on the case. Baby girl was in foster care for 11 months, and now she gets to celebrate her first birthday at home with her parents!

I enjoy being a consistent person in the family’s life. I see them once a week—on their good days and on the days they are struggling. I’m able to give them encouraging words and also tell them I’m proud of them for the hard work they have done.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Jeri is a valued advocate and member of our Safe Babies Court Team. Since taking on her first case, she has hit the ground running and made a significant impact for her kiddo and the family.

Jeri consistently attends court hearings and staffings, is well-respected by the team, and has formed a fantastic relationship with the family she serves.

Jeri is one of the most dedicated and consistent advocates I have had the pleasure of working with. I am so honored to have her as part of my team and cannot wait to see the impact she has on future kids and cases! — Kaitlin Brasher

Volunteer Spotlight – Terrie Miller

Meet Terrie!

Terrie Miller is a Senior Accountant at ONEOK and has been with the company for 21 years. Born and raised in the Tulsa area, Terrie has been involved in many community events. She volunteers often through her company, and has participated in Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, MLK Parade, and Tulsa Area United Way events. She has also volunteered with John 3:16, CAP Tulsa, and through her church.

Terrie went back to college to complete her degree and had a Criminal Justice course where she learned about CASA and how it was started by a judge who was frustrated over making life-changing decisions for children without ever meeting them. Terrie applied to Tulsa CASA and completed training in March 2012.

When Terrie has free time, she enjoys gardening, reading, cooking, and traveling. Her next trip will be to Germany to visit her youngest daughter, who serves at a Church in East Germany with her husband. Her oldest daughter is married with four children, and she also love to spend time with her grandkids every Thursday evening.

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

CASA offers Tulsa a chance to give personal value to the kids who are involved in tragic cases not of their own making or control. We are often the only consistent person in their lives, especially when they’re moved several times or assigned to different caseworkers.

My current case has two kids who were placed 3 hours away about 18 months ago. I’ve been able to make the trip every month and have visited them at the lake, at a school choir competition, and at two different foster placements in that area. CASA can see their strengths and is not distracted by bad behavior.

If you’re looking to volunteer in your community, get out of your comfort zone and learn how to use your skills and talents to serve those in need with love.

A Note from her Advocate Manager

For the past three years, Terrie has remained dedicated to her CASA kiddos during 6 placement changes, countless changes in caseworkers and attorneys, and even failed adoptions. Terrie has been with the children longer than any other professional in their foster care journey.

She has committed to seeing them find their forever family—which will finalize any month now. Please join me in congratulating Terrie for her years of hard work and dedication to two very special children and their happy ever after! – Kylee Jenkins

Volunteer Spotlight – Matthew Cecconi

Meet Matthew!

Matthew moved to Tulsa two years ago after living his entire life in Los Angeles, CA. His wife Camille came to Tulsa one year prior, and suggested it would be a great place for them to live. Upon becoming a member of the community, Matthew was looking for ways to get involved when his wife suggested that CASA would provide an opportunity to support children in the Tulsa area.

Matthew volunteered at a summer camp for children in foster care during college, and he has also been a Reading Partners tutor for the past two school years. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys reading, cooking, and baseball. Naturally a big Los Angeles Dodgers fan, he loves going to the Drillers games since they are a minor league team for the Dodgers!

Matthew will be starting his first year of law school at the University of Tulsa this month. He attributes his experience as a CASA volunteer to being one of the reasons he decided to apply for and attend law school. We are wishing him great success in his new educational endeavors!

What do you enjoy most about being a CASA?

Before I started volunteering with CASA, I felt as if I was not the right person because of a lack of skills and lack of time. The most meaningful work I do as a CASA is visiting my CASA kids. By jumping in, I realized that I already possessed the skills needed to be a CASA, and I wanted to spend even more time with the children on my case!

I love being a constant in their life while so many other parts of it are up in the air. My responsibility as a CASA is to look out for the best interest of the child. One day, that may mean going to a soccer practice. On another day, it means representing their best interests in court.

CASA provides a way to support children in foster care, and that may make all the difference in their life.

A Note from his Advocate Manager

Matthew currently carries two cases and he does not miss a beat juggling them both. His pleasant, friendly, and helpful demeanor make him successful at establishing rapport with the children and parties on his cases.

The adoptive parents on one of his cases look to Matthew as being a resource for them, and a positive male role model for their children. Being his manager is an absolute pleasure; he is an outstanding volunteer! – Julie Blake