Hearts of Yolo: Susie Miller

Thursday, Sep 29, 2016

Susie Miller arrived in Yolo County when her boss recruited her from UCLA to UC Davis to continue the brain research they were working on at the time. “My husband and I immediately loved this community and met many like-minded people through our children, many who remain my dear friends to this day.” One of those friends was Nancy Stephenson and that’s how Susie’s connection to CASA began. “We read in the paper that CASA was forming a local chapter in Yolo County. “We are each mothers of four and felt a calling to help foster children who did not have the kind of consistent relationships our children had. We both graduated from the first advocate training.”

Susie selected a seven-year-old girl for whom to advocate. During their initial visits, Susie would take her on outings to places like the park and Fairly Tale Town that Susie thought she might enjoy. “My CASA child was very guarded in the early days and as I watched her go from placement to placement during our time together I knew exactly why. It’s hard to get close to someone when all you know is that relationships end.” However, Susie knew from her training and her own experience as a mother that a consistent relationship would make a huge difference. “You commit to eighteen months when you become a CASA but I stayed with her for many years. I wanted to show her that people come into your life and stay.” Susie also worked hard to make sure her CASA child maintained a relationship with her sister despite sometimes having placements in different homes. “Nancy Stephenson and I advocated for siblings. The girls always wanted to be together. Some of our happiest times were doing things together the four of us. The girls were very joyful when they were together.”

The advocacy side of being a CASA also stood out to Susie. “During the trainings we learned all about the social services system and it is quite clear that CASAs hold the power to really connect the dots for foster children. We have access to the foster parents, teachers, school counselors, social workers, and biological parents. We truly have the opportunity to see all angles and advocate for the best outcome.” This was important as Susie reflects on the many placements her foster child had. “It is eye opening to see how many times some of these children are moved and each time there is a new school and new family to get used to.”

While Susie volunteered for many activities when her own children were in school, she looks back on CASA as her most cherished volunteer activity. “I felt a very deep calling to be there for this child who had been through so much, all of which was outside of her control. You think about what life must feel like for foster children and you are just compelled to help as much as you can.”

While her time as a CASA ended years ago when she had to turn her attention to caring for her mother, Susie still attends as many CASA events and fundraisers as she can. “I will always do whatever I can to support Yolo County CASA. I can’t think of a better or more needed organization.”

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