In June 2014, Valerie spoke at the CASA Breakfast at Grand Convention in Orlando, Fla. Many Thetas were inspired by Valerie’s story and in the few short hours following the breakfast, attendees raised nearly $14,000 with the help of a matching gift from her family foundation.
My name is Valerie Skinner and I am honored to have been asked to share with you my personal, as well as my family’s, financial commitment to CASA over the years. I’d like to paint a picture for you of why our family has chosen to support CASA through Theta Foundation since 1999.
As a couple, my parents agreed that the most important role they had was to make sure the physical, emotional, social, educational, and spiritual needs of their children were being met to the best of their abilities. They made many sacrifices over the years to make sure we had nutritious food to eat, new shoes to wear, and good schools to attend. They helped us with our homework, monitored our chores, attended our sporting events, took us to church, and drove us back and forth to all of our volunteer activities.
Was my life perfect growing up? No. But was I completely secure every single day of my formative years that my parents wanted me, loved me, and would provide for me until I was old enough to provide for myself? YES. And because I had that strong, safe, supportive foundation, I have been able to repeat that cycle with my own family. Clearly, I won the parent lottery, and I bet many of you did, too. If you’re a child in the foster care system, however, your life looks much different.
As Thetas, we are in a unique position of being in a partnership with an exceptional agency that knows how to show children that someone cares about them. And that this caring person can be trusted to help find them a safe, permanent home where they can thrive and become all they were meant to be.
My dad used to tell me a story about when he was in the first or second grade. His teacher had instructed each child to bring a dime to class to buy a War Bond to support the efforts of the soldiers fighting in World War II. My dad’s mother died when he was 3, and because his family was so poor, his stepmother told him they couldn’t spare a dime, and so he felt deeply hurt and embarrassed to be the only child who didn’t have anything to give. He never forgot that feeling, telling me many times, “Valerie, don’t ever be a person who doesn’t have a dime to give away.” Possibly the most important lesson my father ever taught me was to always be the person who chooses to give. And since he led by such clear example, it was an easy lesson to embrace and understand.
At this stage in my life, I am not going to be able to serve as a judge in a family court. I am not likely to become a CPS worker or even a foster or adoptive parent. Because of other commitments in my life, I currently am not in a position to serve as a CASA advocate. But I do have a dime to give away. And I bet you do, too.
You may already be involved in a fundraiser in your community for your local CASA organization, which is great, but today I am asking you to consider supporting the work of the national organization, because your local chapter relies on them to provide training curriculum, technical support, quality assurance, volunteer recruitment and public awareness. We also rely on our national organization to distribute federal grants and secure private and corporate dollars. The dollars you are raising locally are more efficiently and effectively utilized because of the oversight of our national organization.
As we celebrate our 25th year with CASA, nothing would make me a prouder Theta than to see your dimes and my dimes working together to secure the future of children who are counting on us to care.