Letter: Go to bat for kids as advocate

From: Chuck Grimes


Admittedly, after 42 years in the classroom, the first year out was a bit strange. Now, five years removed from grading papers and greeting the young masses on a daily basis, there is time to travel, visit grandkids and take a more careful look at why more success was not experienced during the four-decade stay in the schoolhouse.

Over the years, there were times that frustration with some kids and their parents did damage the psyche of the teacher. The first substantial and relevant volunteer job undertaken after retirement provided glimpses of why each year provided for some summertime second-guessing.

• Why didn’t Jimmy stay awake and Sally stay focused?

• Why did Billy’s smile come and go so frequently?

• Why did parents of these kids often say the right things but seldom follow through with action?

Training to become a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate was suggested. The training was good, the teacher outstanding. But the real education did not begin until after graduation from the eight-week course.

After two years, this writer was given the opportunity to become more deeply involved with this form of advocacy. I said “yes,” and complete answers to my list of summertime questions came quickly into focus. I now understand why my time and effort spent in the classroom had little, long-lasting effect on Jimmy, Sally and Billy.

I now know that the best I could have ever done for the trio was to give them a safe and enjoyable place to escape each school day. I now know that few family cycles were ever broken by my efforts in the classroom. Physical, mental and sexual abuse, drug addiction, meth, heroin — it’s a lengthy list.

Now, with Advocates for Children, this retired teacher can more clearly understand the impact of the above. Now, as a CASA, this retired teacher has increased his chance to push a button that might prevent the perpetuation of the cycle.

There are times in this role when one feels on duty 24-7. Parents that are barely hanging on assure that.

This kid advocate is convinced there is light at the end of every tunnel. Even on gloomy days when dark clouds hang heavy, light seldom gets extinguished. Dimmed? You bet. Hard to spot? Absolutely. The problem? Not enough advocates.

Our children deserve a chance, but the list of kids being denied that chance is growing every single day. This community has a wealth of talented, determined and caring folks. And sadly, our community also possesses a rapidly growing number of kids in need.

Now is the time to join hands with like-minded folks. Tomorrow may be too late for some of our kids.

For those who have time to persevere and for whom payment is not related to dollars, please give Advocates for Children a call at 812-372-2808 or drop by the office at 1531 13th St. All volunteers will be welcomed with smiles and wide-open arms.