As I began to write this post, I was not sure I could articulate the actual definition of time. There are certainly many things that come to mind – the time of day, a moment in time, not enough time. This makes time a complicated word. It is a word that in one breath can connote happy feelings of ‘that time when…’ or in another connote the melancholy of ‘if only we had more time.’ Many of us feel ‘time fly by’ and it seems to do so at an exponentially faster rate as we get older.
Studies show that giving time has significant, positive effects on one’s health. It can lower stress, depression, and blood pressure. Giving time can also increase self-esteem and overall happiness. Research also demonstrates that spending time on others makes people feel like they have done a lot with their time. Ironically, the more that we do with our time, the more time we feel that we have.
At CASA, we talk a lot about time. Volunteers invest time to understand the volunteer role, time to complete screening and training, and time to advocate on behalf of a child. A child’s case may last a short amount of time, or it might last several years. It takes time to write court reports that provide a complete case history to judges, document factual findings, suggest family stabilization services, and recommend a plan to ensure a safe, permanent home for a child. Advocating on behalf of a child takes a material amount of time.
Our advocates are everyday people with busy lives. They have their own families, work obligations, to-do lists, and life plans. Yet they still make the time to collectively devote thousands of hours each year to serve the most vulnerable members of our society – abused and neglected children. These are children who may not be heard without the time and efforts of a CASA volunteer.
This month we have been celebrating gratitude, specifically gratitude for our volunteers who so selflessly donate their hearts, energy, and time. These are volunteers who take on the challenge of making the local community a better place to live. They are certainly a model for civic engagement, social responsibility, and compassion.
The short, simple phrases that I drew upon to define time are true, but I learned a bit more when I read the full definition of time. It is ‘a continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from the past, through the present, and into the future.’ Our amazing volunteer advocates are giving the gift of time to become a guardian and a historian for the children on their cases. They learn and understand their past, show up in the present, and help forge a path toward a brighter future. For this, we are so very grateful.