Volunteer Of The Month
Volunteer of the Month
"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then, there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes."
- Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers)
Each month CASA of Northeast Oklahoma recognizes a volunteer as a Spotlight Volunteer of the Month for their work to help Change A Child's Story. For the month of February, CASA recognizes Christine (Chris) Smiley.
CASA volunteers work to make sure children who have been taken from their homes because of evidence of abuse and neglect don’t face dependency court and foster care alone.
"After I retired, I wanted to volunteer my time in an area where I could be of most use. Having been adopted after being abandoned by my birth mother in a hospital, I realized that there are many children in the same situation where the birth parent is unable or unwilling to raise a child in a safe, nurturing environment. The birth mother does need to be offered the proper resources and assistance to provide her the opportunity to be able to be the mother to her children, offering them love, security and putting their needs first,” said Chris.
Chris and her husband have two sons. She has served as a CASA volunteer in Mayes County for ten years, beginning in 2014. Chris recently retired to spend more time with her family. Over the span of her CASA career, she served on 37 cases involving a multitude of children.
"The most rewarding part is working with the children, giving them a friend during their time of uncertainty and knowing that I have been part of their journey to a successful ending,” said Chris.
The most frustrating part? "The length of time the children have remained in the system. Often, the parent or parents do not diligently follow the plan set for them by DHS and the children remain in limbo for much too long. Also, it is discouraging to see just how many children suffer from neglect and abuse,” she said.
“We want to recognize Chris Smiley, not only as the Spotlight Volunteer of the Month for February but for her entire 10 years as a volunteer advocate serving children in Mayes County,” said Sandra Rains, Lead Advocate Coordinator. “While the number of cases and children she worked with can be measured, I am not sure anyone can ever accurately measure the true impact she has had through her work in these children’s lives. Congratulations to Chris Smiley on being selected Spotlight Volunteer of the Month for February and for 10 years of child advocacy! Thank you, Chris!”
Something that most people might not know about Chris is that at just 20 years old, she left her small hometown in Pennsylvania and flew to San Francisco. Her plane landed on the day the great earthquake was going to happen, where California was predicted to be separated from its neighboring states and became its own island. Throughout the hippie era, she lived near Haight Ashbury along with all the political upheaval. It is also where she met and married a Marine stationed there. They have been married for 54 years.
For more information about volunteer opportunities and how you can help “Change A Child’s Story”, please visit www.casaneok.org/volunteer-your-time or call (918) 923-7276.