Volunteer Heroes

Bridget Gorman-Volunteer Spotlight

Bridget Gorman, a resident of Caroline County, has been a CASA of Caroline volunteer for approximately one year.  "I have lived here on the Eastern Shore for the past 15 years and have found it a wonderful place to live and raise my family, " she says.  Prior to becoming a CASA, Bridget taught 3rd grade at a Catholic school in Southern Maryland for five years.

Bridget is a mother of six children (5 girls and 1 boy) ranging in age from 13 - 25, and a volunteer karate instructor when she is not volunteering for CASA.  Bridget heard about CASA through her husband, Bill, who thought it would be a service she would be interested in because the role incorporates a mix of professional services (i.e. dealing with courts) and working with children.  "With my youngest now a teenager I felt that I finally had the time to volunteer and help others," says Bridget.

Currently, Bridget is advocating for a young man who has been in foster care with his sibling since he was 14-years-old.  Both children were voluntarily p.laced in the system by their mother who struggles with addiction.  Bridget has been a CASA for this young man since she first joined the organization; prior to Bridget's appointment, he did not have a CASA speaking up for his best interests.  "He is a delightful and smart young man, but has issues as one might imagine, after a lifetime of living with the issues of being the child of a parent who struggles with addition."

Bridget & her CASA child see one another at least 2 to 3 times a month.  "Generally, we go out for a meal or meet his brother's CASA for a rollicking couple of rounds of bowling," she says.  The also go shopping and have lively discussions about sports, but lately have been meeting for service learning hours at the local CASA office for him to graduate.

I have benefited immensely from my CASA experience.  Not only is helping a child in need rewarding, it is also a very necessary service as so many things can fall through the cracks.  I feel I have been instrumental in that respect.  I have a close relationship with my CASA child and I know that he is grateful for the support I have given him.  Another positive aspect of being a CASA is the friendships I have forged with other CASA volunteers.  It's a great family to be a part of!"

Please, everyone, help us recognize and give thanks to Bridget for her wonderful service and dedication to a brighter future for the children and youth of Caroline County!

 

MaryLou Plutschak, CASA of Caroline Volunteer Advocate

With a master’s degree in counseling as well as an undergraduate background in psychology and sociology from the University of Maryland, this week’s spotlight volunteer, MaryLou Plutschak, was prepared to help children in need as a child advocate; since 2008, she has been working as a volunteer with CASA of Caroline, Inc.!

MaryLou began her history of working with her community in 1972 when she started her career with the State of Maryland. She worked in the Parole and Probation Division as an agent supervising adult offenders in the community and preparing pre-sentence investigations for the court. She worked her way up to being a supervisor and worked at several management levels. MaryLou credits her career as helping her develop the skills necessary to work with a variety of individuals. Listening more and treating everyone with respect are two skills that have helped her the most.

When MaryLou retired from her position as a Regional Administrator at the end of 2007, she had already decided in her mind that she wanted to work with children. MaryLou had spent her entire career working with adults and could use many of those skills to help children in need. In a case of perfect timing, MaryLou saw an ad looking for CASA volunteers for Caroline County before she retired and began training in January of 2008.

Currently, MaryLou is working with a seventeen year old boy who is preparing to graduate high school in May. She describes him as being smart, personable, and having a lot of potential. When he turns eighteen in July, MaryLou plans to encourage him to remain in the system so he can receive all the opportunities available to him.

Recently, her CASA youth received his driver’s license on his first try! When no one else was available to teach him, MaryLou helped him get the 60 practice hours he needed. Her teen also purchased a used car with money he made from his part-time job and she helped him complete all the paperwork necessary to get it out on the road!

Outside of helping her teen with driving, MaryLou helps him keep his schedule straight between doctor’s appointments and regular check-ups, blocking off time for other activities like getting a haircut or setting up a bank account so he can keep tabs on his finances and take control of his financial future.

By working with her CASA youth, MaryLou feels that she is contributing to her community in an important way. She says it’s wonderful to work with children and she hopes she has made a difference in the lives of those she has advocated for

So why should someone volunteer with CASA? MaryLou says it’s a rewarding opportunity to help the children who need it most in the community. She also says that she has gained many new friends and has had a lot of interesting experiences. If someone is interested in becoming a CASA but hasn’t taken the next step yet, MaryLou says to sign up today!

Thank you MaryLou for going above and beyond for your CASA youth!