City of Alexandria, VA
Volunteer Profile: Linda A. Johnson
"With determination and support, people can overcome addiction and unemployment, creating better lives for themselves and their children."
Volunteer Advocate, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
Q: How did you first get involved with this organization and begin volunteering?
A friend told me about her work as a Fairfax County CASA and I immediately knew that, that was what I wanted to do.
Q: Why did you choose to be a part of this particular organization?
It was really no choice as SCAN is THE organization that administers the CASA program in Alexandria and Arlington.
Q: How long have you been volunteering?
I’ve been volunteering for 9.5 years.
Q: How many hours per week or month do you volunteer?
Anywhere from 20 to 46 hours a month.
Q: What do your volunteer duties involve?
Let me back track a bit here— First, a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court judge appoints a CASA to advocate for an abuse or neglected child when he/she believes it would be in the child’s best interest. When I am appointed to a case, I (1) review the legal documents; (2) try to meet the child and parents; (3) interview the child’s teachers, caregivers, social worker, guardian ad litem, pediatrician, psychologist, etc.; (4) attend team meetings; (5) write up my findings, conclusions, and recommendations for the judge; and (6) attend court hearings.
Q: What is the best part of volunteering at this organization?
I am helping children get the education and services they need while also seeing that they are in safe—not abusive—homes.
Q: What have you learned from your volunteer experience?
With determination and support, people can overcome addiction and unemployment, creating better lives for themselves and their children. Also, that I am very fortunate to have been raised in a secure and loving home where all my physical, emotional, and educational needs were met. The parents and children, with whom I work, have not been so lucky.
Q: What would you recommend for others who want to get more involved in the community through volunteer work?
If what I do appeals to you, become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. If you don’t have that much time to spend, volunteer for as little as one hour a week helping children learn to read via various after-school programs. We now know that the number of third graders who cannot read determines how large we should build our future prisons.