Tim Riley was waiting for jury service when the judge asked those present if they would consider working as Court Appointed Special Advocates. Children in foster care are the target of the advocates' advocacy and assistance. Riley was informed that there was a critical need for men to volunteer and speak up for young boys in foster care.
Riley, a Carlsbad resident, started his volunteer work as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) with the San Diego non-profit organization Voices for Children at that time. Ten years have passed since then, during which time he has assisted six neighborhood boys, ranging in age from 13 to 17, in obtaining the necessary medical, educational, and emotional support.
According to Voices for Children's principal program officer Stephen Moore, Tim Riley is an ideal illustration of how one dependable and caring adult can significantly alter a young person's life. Tim develops trust with these youngsters not only via his words but also through his day-to-day behavior and by serving as an example of what a positive connection with a loving adult should entail.
Riley will be recognized by Voices for Children as the 2022 CASA of the Year at the organization's annual gala, Starry Starry Night, which will be held on October 20 at The Rady Shell in Jacobs Park. Riley will be recognized for his efforts, going above and beyond to assist foster children.
Riley is one of the 1,300 volunteers trained and supported by Voices for Children to speak out for foster children in court, the classroom, and the doctor's office to ensure their needs are fulfilled. As foster child deals with court appearances, social workers, lawyers, and frequently changing homes, CASA volunteers typically become the most reliable, compassionate adult in their lives. More than 3,400 children in foster care throughout San Diego and Riverside counties were assisted by CASA volunteers and staff at Voices for Children, which was founded in 1980.
Riley, a former owner of a healthcare marketing firm, is honored for his "unwavering commitment to youngsters in foster care in San Diego County. "
Riley and his wife adopted their two adult children at birth and are now empty nesters. When Riley learned that CASA volunteers were needed, he thought it would be the ideal opportunity to lend a hand.
Simply being present and listening is the key to becoming a successful CASA, says the author. The moment the youth understand you are a volunteer and are not being paid for this activity, their eyes open. They have been let down by the people in their lives, and the genuine connection emerges when they understand I'm in it for the long haul, Riley said.
Sean, a 13-year-old Riley's first assigned child, was at a turning point in his life at the time Riley first met him as his intellectual handicap was being identified and treated. Sean was removed from his home after being neglected for years, and he was worried he would never have anyone to rely on when he entered the foster system.
"I have enjoyed working with all of my young people. But my first child, Sean, was the one who changed my life the most," Riley remarked.
Over the course of several years, Riley and Sean collaborated extensively to help him find his grandma. But when Sean reached 18, his grandmother passed away, and a few months later, Sean was in danger of losing his house.
Sean has an intellectual handicap, and thanks to my continued communication with his team of teachers and therapists, I was able to assist Sean in obtaining lifelong services that would give him housing and occupational training. Without a community of unsung kind folks, none of what is happening to him now that he is 23 and living in an adult group home, Riley said, "would have happened."
Riley continues to offer constant support to the young people he works with even after they leave the foster care system and reach adulthood. Additionally, he exhorts young people to speak up for themselves and to support others.
"When the young person and I go to court, the process of teaching them to be their advocates begins. I would ask the young person to gather his thoughts and present the judge with his needs to set the scene for what real life is like. Naturally, they were anxious and afraid to speak in court. But in addition to assisting them in obtaining the resources they required, it also helped them develop the confidence to now, as young adults, speak up for their own needs," Riley added.
I knew CASAs changed lives, but I didn't anticipate the significant positive impact I experienced on my own, he added. "I'm humbled by this recognition, but the biggest honor is watching all six of the youngsters in my case develop into self-reliant young men," the recipient said.
To learn more about becoming a CASA volunteer, visit speakupnow.org.
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