This September, Gayle Miles will celebrate her sixth anniversary with CASA of Luzerne County. In that time, Gayle has been appointed to three cases and advocated for six children.
One of the most important things she’s learned and something she’d suggest for other advocates, she said, is patience.
“Don’t be in a rush to get permanency for the kids even though it’s the goal. In my most recent case, if you had told me 3.5 years ago that the natural mother would be getting her children back, and I would be advocating for that, I would have said ‘impossible,’” Gayle said. “But four different caseworkers, two supervisors, seven counselors, and two foster homes – plus three separate parenting classes for the mom – yielded permanency. Something the first caseworker said would never happen.”
Gayle has learned to find balance between listening to everyone involved and trusting herself. She has been able to translate that into advocacy that has allowed the children in all three cases to have a happy outcome – placement with foster parents, placement with great grandparents and unlimited contact with mom, and reunification.
She also noted a similarity in all her cases, that all the natural parents have been in the system themselves.
“I like to think that I’m not just helping the kids, but hopefully breaking the cycle of abuse,” Gayle said.
Gayle also appreciates that she can perform her advocacy on her own schedule.
“I thought it seemed like something I might like to do, particularly because there were no set hours,” she said. “It’s a volunteer opportunity that can, except for court hearings, work around your commitments. And the CASA staff does a great job matching you with the ‘right’ child. How you approach the case is up to you.”
One of the most memorable experiences, she said, was recently when she found herself in a stressful situation with both of the kids on her last case.
The kids had both gotten sick and there was an issue with the car’s tire which caused a delay in plans.
“Even a year ago,” Gayle said, “just one of these things would have caused wailing, tears, and/or minor hysteria.”
The progress that these children made in the time that Gayle has been with them is yet another example of the benefits of having a caring, consistent adult presence.
If, like Gayle, you’re ready to make a difference like that, we invite you to join us at one of our upcoming info sessions. Click here to find the session that’s right for you, and click the link to register. We’ll be here to answer all your questions and give you some insight on how this type of advocacy can work for you.
Gayle, who received both her BA in English and Elementary Education and her MBA from Wilkes University, lives in Hanover Township.