Still Standing Tall - and Reeling Them In
Last month was like a long, drawn out hurricane! It blew through and left us dazed and amazed but still standing upright. Summer is like that though. There are staff vacations to cover in departments that are already stretched to the limit, back to school programs to manage, doubled up donations to sort, and a heat index that could melt your shoes. Add two broken air conditioners, year-end budget reports and new staff training and you’ve got a perfect storm situation. It was brutal – but we made it through with no visible damage.
During the eye of that storm, Jean Cate and I spent many hours talking about the incredible growth she’s seen in the CASA Program over the last fifteen years. She spoke of the children she’s known as if they were her own grands and great grands. She knows their names, where most of them are and still gets pictures from grateful adoptive parents and others who have provided forever homes for these precious souls. Her eyes sparkle with joy when she calls them by name and sometimes water with sadness when the story didn’t turn out quite like she wanted. They can also light up with fire when she mentions the abusers who made the mess in the first place. Her mission is crystal clear – every child deserves a chance and she aims to find it for them.
When I first moved to Granbury and folks found out where I worked or just read my nametag when I went through a checkout line, they always said the same thing, “Oh, Mission Granbury! You work with Jean Cate!” I still hear it all the time from store cashiers, waiters and waitresses, plumbers and pastors, senators and sign makers. They all know and adore Jean.
We’ve often joked about taking new volunteers for a tour of the building. The rule was “don’t even walk them by Jean’s office before they tour everything else or they’ll walk out a CASA and no one else will have a chance!” It’s true, she’s the epitome of a fierce advocate and her passion for what she does is magnificently contagious.
During her tenure, Jean has grown the program from a tiny single staff program with about 20 children to a four-staff program with over 165 children and almost 50 volunteers. What was once kept neatly in a file folder is now stored on a vast, highly secure cloud-based computer program. Yes, the world continues to evolve and our CASA program is evolving with it – but through it all, Jean’s mission remains the same – be the voice for a child. It will always be about the children for her.
As Jean prepares to retire as Program Director later this month, it’s only fair to warn you all. Jean is moving into a new Recruiter/Ambassador role for Mission Granbury, including the Ada Carey Shelter and CASA. Her mission will be to reach out to local community groups and organizations and tell them about the good work we do here and explain how important a CASA volunteer is to a child or hand out wish lists for shelter residents.
And you may be one of the innocent attendees who thinks you’re going to have a nice lunch, do a little visiting and go home – and you would be wrong. Her passionate stories about children whose lives have been incredibly changed by CASAs, who were able for the first time to take music lessons, play football, and dream dreams will change you. She’ll get to you. She always does but you’ll love her for it. firstname.lastname@example.org