THE October ADVOCATE OF THE MONTH IS:
Please join us in celebrating our October Advocate of the Month, Stephy Ochoa! Stephy has been an advocate since May 2023 and has certainly hit the ground running. She is assigned to a teenage boy who desperately needs a friend, confidant, mentor, and ally. Stephy has been all these and more. Since coming into care in February of this year, this teen has moved five times. Four of these moves have occurred since Stephy accepted the case in May. Each time he moves, Stephy immediately goes to see him. She also stays in close contact with him through phone calls. CASA’s minimum standard for contact is once a month and Stephy far exceeds this. By maintaining such close communication with him, he is reassured time and again that he is important to Stephy and that she is not going to let him down.
This kiddo has many reasons to be wary of adults. Unfortunately, he has been let down by too many people that he should have been able to rely on. He truly was alone in this world until he was assigned a CASA. Like we so often say, they ended up being a perfect match! Stephy understands teen boys and has a special way of connecting with him.
Recently, Stephy attended an educational meeting for her child. It was painfully obvious that the school staff had no understanding of trauma and how it affects a child’s behavior, emotional capacity, and decision making. Stephy took that opportunity to explain it and was able to make recommendations to help teachers and administrators dispense consequences more appropriately. She also shared her knowledge so that the school could find ways to handle his actions other than using only punitive measures. After the meeting, her teen said, “No one has ever stood up for me before.” She told him again that she is committed to being his advocate and she will continue to be his voice.
Stephy has also spent numerous hours researching programs such as Job Corps that might fit this child’s needs and ambitions. She thinks outside the box and insists that other entities such as CPS be receptive to creative ideas. She understands that the “one size fits all” mentality will not meet this kiddo’s needs. In addition to her exceptional advocacy, Stephy makes efforts to support the CASA program as a whole. She often attends graduation to show support for new advocates and she volunteers for non-case work activities such as helping with lunch at the Amplifying Advocacy Conference our program hosts. Stephy is a Difference Maker in every sense of the word, and we are so very grateful she is part of the CASA family.