“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
It was the Super Bowl of 2015. Unlike the other commercials advertising beer, web domains or Doritos, one stood out among the rest, raising awareness on domestic violence and abuse.
For one young girl watching the Super Bowl that year, this commercial was life altering.
She was suddenly able to put words to the sexual abuse she faced every day from her own father. Watching the commercial empowered her to speak up.
What happened next has been an extremely difficult journey for both her and her brother.
But for both of them, they do not have to walk this journey alone.
This is where Tammy Crenshaw steps in. As a court appointed special advocate (CASA), she stands with children, empowering them to have a voice. As a CASA volunteer, Tammy comforts, cares for and serves children through possibly the worst time of their lives.
“CASA volunteers provide a common sense mindset in the midst of chaos,” Tammy explains. “I have been a CASA for Shelby County, Indiana since April of 2012. I have helped several innocent children’s voices be heard in the court when they have found themselves in a situation they had no control over. I help give them a voice. When their parents or guardians let them down by abusing or neglecting them, and then authorities and the Department of Child and Family Services step in, I steadfastly stand alongside the children. In some ways, there are similarities between a CASA’s role and our relationship with those families that foster these children.
“We are loving on children who feel lost.”
The CASA program is a nationwide volunteer program. Unlike the legal position of someone working for the Department of Child and Family Services with 20-30 cases on their desk at one time, CASA volunteers have just one case at a time. After an extensive 30-hour training course, a CASA is given a case. Each case then lasts from six months to a year, and they are able to offer individual attention to the children they serve.
Tammy has been on the same case with the young girl and her brother since 2013. And in 2015, after the young girl saw the Super Bowl commercial about domestic violence, Tammy was there to hold her hand while she testified to a jury.
Tammy has been by her side through the whole process.
“I know you will love me forever anyway,” the young girl said to Tammy one day while they were out shopping.
Those words have stuck with Tammy, “This is what it’s all about – loving these kids.”
The Summit changes the game for even more children.
In 2015, Tammy volunteered at her church to serve during The Global Leadership Summit. When she walked into the auditorium to catch a glimpse of the session, it was nothing less than a God-ordained moment.
A video played about a pastor in Colorado who desires for every orphan in the state to be adopted—where families are waiting on children, not where children are waiting on families.
The vision about “no child waiting” struck a chord with her.
“I was immediately hit with a sense of urgency,” Tammy shares. “The more he talked about his project, the more I knew what needed to be done for the CASA program. I realized it doesn’t have to be about fostering kids. It’s about addressing a need in the community—for me that was Shelbyville, Indiana.”
Tammy immediately texted the director of CASA.
“As a CASA, I wanted CASA volunteers to be waiting on children, not children waiting on a CASA!” Tammy exclaimed. “I asked my director if there was anyone recruiting for our CASA program. She said, ‘No, but you can if you want. There is definitely a need for more CASA’s in our community.’ That was all I needed to hear.”
In 2015, a total of 106 children were served by a CASA. At the end of 2016, a total of 72 children were still in need of a CASA. As of May 2017, only 13 children are waiting for a voice in our court system. Tammy is close to achieving this goal!
The recruiting program has been going so well, CASA received a grant, and Tammy was offered a job recruiting and training more volunteers to join. “I would do this job for free because I’m so passionate about serving these kids,” says Tammy.
You too can hear God’s whispers at the Summit.
Tammy is also passionate about the Summit, and giving people the opportunity to hear God’s whisper in their life the way he whispered into hers. “You may not know who the speakers are or what videos are going to play. I wouldn’t have known!” Tammy said. “You never know what you’re going to hear or what conversations might come out of it. Had I not listened, I would have missed the moment when God pointed me in the direction where I needed to be going. I believe it was for such a time as this!”