Our team at Henrico CASA loves to read… and there’s no better time to read than the summer! In upcoming weeks we’ll be highlighting some of our recent favorites in the hopes that you will enjoy the themes and connections to our work as child advocates.
The book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth explores the concept of perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Amazon says, “The daughter of a scientist who frequently noted her lack of ‘genius,’ Angela Duckworth is now a celebrated researcher and professor. It was her early eye-opening stints in teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience that led to her hypothesis about what really drives success: not genius, but a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance.”
I Recommend Because…
While the book primarily focuses on personal development and achievement, I quickly realized that its principles can be directly applied to the realm of volunteerism – which of course means our CASA volunteers!
Volunteerism requires individuals to commit their time, effort, and skills to a cause. It is a selfless act driven by a desire to make a positive impact on others. Our CASA staff and Board members are proud that our volunteers come from different backgrounds and life experiences, and we deeply value this diversity. While celebrating this diversity, we recognize that our volunteers also have similarities: tenacity, perseverance, and the desire to make a difference. My new favorite term for these traits, thanks to this book, is GRIT.
To celebrate our volunteers, I want to highlight a few ways that our CASA volunteers demonstrate grit while working with children and families:
- Passion and Purpose: Duckworth emphasizes the importance of having a clear sense of purpose and being passionate about one’s goals. Having a passion for the mission or values behind volunteer work can fuel dedication and enthusiasm. Our volunteers are deeply committed to our mission and at the core, believe that children in our community deserve to be safe and loved.
- Perseverance: Duckworth defines grit as the combination of passion and perseverance over the long term. Being a CASA volunteer sometimes involves facing challenges, setbacks, and obstacles. It requires our volunteers to persist through difficult situations while staying focused on the children they commit to serve. Having grit enables our advocates to overcome obstacles, maintain their motivation, and continue forward – even when the going gets tough.
- Growth Mindset: Duckworth discusses the significance of having a growth mindset. This is a belief that abilities and skills can be developed through effort and practice. Training is an integral part of CASA’s program – from preservice training to continuing education to ongoing supervision from our staff. Our volunteer advocates are dedicated to continuous learning. I am constantly amazed at how our volunteers work diligently to improve their skills to become more effective in their advocacy.
- Resilience: Volunteerism can sometimes be emotionally challenging. This is especially true at CASA, as all our cases involve allegations that children have experienced abuse and neglect. Duckworth’s emphasis on resilience aligns with the need for our advocates to develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to changing circumstances, and maintain their commitment to the children they so selflessly serve.
- Long-term Commitment: Grit demands long-term commitment to achieving meaningful goals. Being a CASA volunteer is a long-term commitment – dedicating time to their cases and gathering information to assist judges in making the best possible decisions for a child and their family. I am so proud that our volunteers commit to their roles for many years, making a meaningful and lasting impact on our community.
This book underscored what I knew, but perhaps did not have the perfect word to describe. Our advocates are motivated by passion, perseverance, growth, and resilience. They have made a long-term commitment to make a difference in a child’s life, advocate within an imperfect system, and improve our community – one child at a time. If our volunteers don’t personify GRIT, then I’m not sure who does!
Learn more about the role of a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate here.