What's Happening


05.29.2014

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Volunteer

Advocate Impact:  Tom Nolan

CASA Advocate Tom Nolan signed onto an incredibly diverse case with two teenage children.  The family was from Afghanistan but had lived in America for several years. The teenage daughter in this particular family was late returning home from school one day, so the family collectively decided to punish her. She experienced severe physical abuse at the hands of her family, who viewed this as simple punishment because of their Muslim culture. The courts, however, saw this as unnecessary abuse.

Tom spent days researching the family’s culture and immediately began looking for appropriate resources for them; however, the family wanted nothing to do with Child Protective Services (CPS) or with CASA. From the beginning, Tom was met with anger, manipulation, and resistance. He was ignored at parent-child visits, berated during staffings, and ostracized at court. Still, Tom was kind, respectful, and diligent in his role. Despite his kindhearted nature, the children were not warm and welcoming to him, and they did not want to go on outings or do other things that most CASA children want to do with their volunteer.  Instead, they shunned him, viewing him as an outsider that could keep them from returning home to their family. That did not stop Tom from showing up to their basketball games, driving them to therapy if they needed a ride, or being there whenever he felt they needed him.  Tom understood that the children were scared and angry and wanted to go home.

Despite being unwanted, unwelcomed, and unappreciated, Tom steadily marched on. He didn’t once put his own feelings ahead of the children’s.  Instead, he advocated for intensive therapy for the children and the family as a whole. Throughout the case, he met with therapists, ensured that the children’s placements followed the special dietary restrictions for their culture, and advocated for the children to remain in the same school during their moves.  Tom never gave up in petitioning the courts, CPS, and attorneys to find a resolution for this family and to get these children home. 

The children began to see that Tom was fighting for them and were more inviting to him.  As the year went on, the mother completed her service plan, went to therapy with her children, and obtained stable housing and employment. As she made progress, her attitude began to change for the better. Only a few weeks ago, Tom was able to tell these two children that they would be going home to their family that very day.

In addition to volunteering with CASA, Tom is also deeply committed to serving the families of soldiers in San Antonio. He also coaches his grandson’s basketball and soccer teams. Tom is always willing to talk about his experience as a CASA volunteer with anyone who wants to listen, and he has helped CASA to recruit others who are willing to dedicate their time to serve foster children. In all, on this case alone, Tom spent over 150 hours, traveled over 1300 miles, and attended countless trainings to become a better educated CASA volunteer. When Judge Garcia recently asked for an experienced Advocate for a very high profile physical abuse case, Tom immediately came to mind. When asked, his response was a simple and sincere statement: “If these kids need me, then sign me up.”

Tom has a passionate attitude for helping people and it is truly a reflection of his heart.  As a retired police officer, Tom has dedicated his life to serving others claiming that it’s what God has called him to do.

Advocate Impact:  Tom Nolan