Hearts of Yolo: Chris Thomas

Thursday, Jul 5, 2018

Before she retired, Chris Thomas was a teacher for over 30 years. “I am no stranger to kids who are struggling and I knew in my retirement that I wanted to do something to give back to kids in need.” When Chris retired, she immediately thought of Yolo County CASA. “A dear friend I’ve known since childhood is a foster parent and was very familiar with the CASA organization. Also, when I was a teacher, I once had a CASA volunteer have a conference with me. So I knew from a couple of angles that Yolo County CASA might be a place I wanted to get involved with.”

Chris went through the Yolo County CASA training a few years ago when she moved to Woodland to be closer to her daughters. “The training was really well done. With a background as a teacher, I felt like I knew a lot about kids and their needs, but I still learned a great deal. And, if I hadn’t had a background teaching, the training would have been everything I needed.” In addition to the training, Chris is appreciative of the continual support. “All the CASA volunteers have advocate supervisors who are available to advise them and provide support whenever it’s needed. We also have opportunities for continuing education and networking with other CASA volunteers.”

Chris has now had two CASA children. Her first CASA child was a preteen girl. “One thing that stands out to me is that it took a year for her to smile and give me a sign that she liked our visits. I’ll never forget that day… we were out to eat and she laughed at my joke. From there she opened up more and more. It’s important to remember the trauma these kids have been through. Sometimes it takes time for them to get through that when they form new relationships.”

Chris recently took on a new case after her first case ended. “This time I have a much younger girl so we go to the park, read books, and do ‘kid stuff.’ I think it’s easier for the little ones to open up but you can still see that there has been trauma in her life so we just take things slow and let our relationship evolve.”

As for the advocacy component, Chris reflects, “There have been several moments where I have thought, ‘Wow, if I weren’t here to give my report, this or that really would have been missed… and that would have been really unfortunate for the child.”

To anyone considering becoming a CASA volunteer, Chris is encouraging. “As I mentioned, the support is incredible and I can’t think of a better way to make an impact on the world than to touch a child’s life. As a retired teacher of thirty years, I can unequivocally say, ‘relationships are huge and the difference they make for a child is so impactful it’s hard to quantify.’”

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