Hearts of Yolo Profile: Martha Clark-Garrison

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Martha Clark-Garrison has always had a giving heart. With a 21 year-old son and 17 year-old daughter, many years of Martha’s life were filled volunteering for boy scouts, girl scouts, sports, field trips, and the like. Through these activities and involvement in her children’s lives, Martha met Klarissa, a foster child who had a CASA of her own. This was when she found her CASA calling, “I became a CASA nearly two years ago because I was inspired by an incredible young lady who was a foster child and in the CASA program. This young lady was determined, smart and certainly ambitious. She was not going to let her situation define who she was or who she could become and I saw the ways she benefited from having a CASA. I wanted to help others in similar situations.”

And that she did. Despite a full-time job as an analyst at UC Davis and her other volunteer work, Martha immersed herself in becoming a CASA. “The training and subsequent support made me feel confident and prepared. I couldn’t wait to get started.”

Martha has since had two cases with siblings, which she’s enjoyed very much. Her approach to being a CASA is to be the hand to hold, the ear to listen, and the hug to give. Simple things, like taking her CASA children to coffee or on walks are some of her most enjoyable moments. During these times, she tries as hard as she can to understand their perspectives and foster their needs, “One of my favorite things to do is bring a camera with me on walks with my CASA children. I let them take as many pictures as they want and then I print them and put the pictures in a book for them. I am always amazed when I get to see how my CASA children see the world through that camera lens. It’s different than how I see it and it helps me relate to them even more.”

Relating is key to Martha’s work as a CASA and something that she doesn’t take lightly. “I know that my main job as a CASA is to be in tune with and responsive to my CASA child’s needs. For example, I once noticed that one of my CASA children was having similar issues to what Klarissa had gone through as a foster child so I immediately connected them. It was one of the most beautiful conversations I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t always have the answers but I try to facilitate as much as I can, and that day it worked really well.”

Martha’s most recent CASA case just ended because happily, her CASA child was adopted. Through tears she states, “It can be bittersweet at times. I am so happy she had a good outcome but I really miss her. I will never forget her songs. Every time she saw me she wanted to teach me a new song. I loved them all.”

Martha looks forward to her next CASA case and is dedicated to making this a big part of her life’s work. While her schedule is indeed busy, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “This is truly important work. I can’t imagine NOT fitting it in to my schedule. It’s truly one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever done.”

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