CASA of Caroline Volunteer Advocate
MaryLou Plutschak has been a CASA volunteer since 2008. With a master’s degree in counseling as well as an undergraduate background in psychology and sociology from the University of Maryland, MaryLou was prepared to help children in need as a child advocate.
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!
When you ask somebody to name their favorite superhero, they might say Superman or Black Panther or Wonder Woman. At CASA of Caroline, one of our favorite superheroes is Geraldine “Gerry” Warner, who has been a CASA volunteer since 2010 when she was sworn in by then Circuit Court Judge, The Honorable Karen Murphy Jensen. So, we would like recognize Gerry in our Volunteer Spotlight and thank her for her 10 years of commitment to CASA of Caroline and our county’s children!
Geraldine’s decision to become a volunteer was made after attending a Pathfinder meeting at her church, Mt. Carmel Seventh Day Adventist in the Spring of 2010. She heard several children complaining about their homelives. She felt powerless and decided she wanted to be involved in helping children, but wasn’t quite sure how. Shortly thereafter, she was walking up Market Street and saw the CASA offices. That was her lightbulb moment. “I decided that children need more people to work to help them get into the best possible environment.” So, she applied to become a volunteer, completed the 30-hour pre-service training program, and was sworn under oath to serve and protect the children in the Caroline County Foster Care System.
Over the past 10 years, Gerry has advocated on behalf of 8 different children, all between the ages of 1 and 4. “I find it a joy because I’ve always loved children and I get to meet lots of interesting people!” exclaimed Warner. She truly has a passion for helping children in need. Even on her initial application 10 years ago she wrote, “I have always had a special place in my heart for children and I always want to help when they need help.” And she believes we ALL, as a society, have a responsibility to help children and families in need. “Neighbors should help out neighbors in a time of need. When you see a situation, talk to the people involved to see if it can be worked out.”
She also has a passion for creating healthy family environments. One of her greatest parenting philosophies is to “always make the home a peaceful place to live”. She believes parents should be there for their children at all times; be involved in their educations, make time for conversations, provide a safe environment, and most importantly, BE A ROLE MODEL! Luckily for us and the children of Caroline County, Gerry IS a role model in her church, her community and at CASA.
Gerry also strives to make her own home a safe, peaceful environment for her and her 15-year-old grandson who has been in her custody since infancy. The custodial process she went through with her grandson and the Department of Social Services gave her an inside look at the lengthy court proceedings many children face when their biological parents cannot safely and adequately care for them. That experience has propelled her into advocacy for those kids who really need someone by their side at a scary and challenging time.
Reflecting on her 10 years as a CASA, Gerry says the experience of being a volunteer advocate has positively impacted her own life in many ways. “I feel proud that I have been able to help children and families in our community.” She also greatly appreciates the workshops and trainings provided by the CASA program and says they have helped in her own parenting. Her biggest challenge has been witnessing the abuse and neglect suffered by children. “It can be difficult reporting things you know just aren’t right but when a child’s safety is in jeopardy, you find the strength.” We are so grateful Gerry has that strength and the commitment to keep children safe!
Make a Financial Contribution:
- Click on our "donation" link or send us a check. Monetary donations help cover the costs of recruiting and training volunteer advocates. All gifts are tax-deductible.
- Designate CASA of Caroline in your workplace giving. Don’t forget about matching funds programs and Maryland Charity Campaigns #1363. Please visit mdcharity.org to learn more.
- Honor a CASA advocate you know by making a gift in his or her honor.
- Make a planned gift through a bequest or life insurance gifts.
Become a Corporate Partner
We are looking for like-minded businesses and organizations within the community to become partners. Please visit our "Community Partners" page for more details and to see our current partners.
Make an In-Kind Donation:
- Office supplies like copy paper, file folders, etc.
- Non-perishable food and beverages to be used during trainings.
- Gift cards for gas or restaurants that our CASA's could use during their visits with their child
- Gift cards or items for the auction at our annual fundraiser.
Other Ways to Support:
- Host an event such as a car wash, bake sale, etc. to benefit CASA of Caroline.
- Shop AmazonSmile and designate CASA of Caroline as your charity of choice.
- Invite us to come present to your group, organization or workplace.
- Stay connected with us by signing up for our newsletter and e-mail updates.
Get In Touch
114 Market Street, Suite 100
Denton, MD 21629