Each month, Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma (CANO) celebrates the advocacy of one of our CASA volunteers. This month, we celebrate the service of David Bridges, a volunteer advocate in Delaware County for over a year.
Bridges is an Episcopal Priest at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Grove. He and his wife Marla have three adult sons who now have amazing families of their own. They love their wonderful grandchildren and their service dog.
Bridges is active in the Grove Rotary Club and on top of working with CASA, he has been active in various child welfare groups throughout his career. He was the founding Board Member of the National Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse, the founder of The American Children’s Welfare Foundation, and was a private investigator. It is clear that Bridges is passionate about and dedicated to ensuring children are protected and loved.
Citing his history of working with organizations devoted to children, Bridges was drawn to the work and cause of CASA. “Our legal system often treats children as property, not individuals with unique rights and circumstances” Bridges commented. “Parents are not always aware of the effects their decisions have on the children in their care. Our adversarial legal system often neglects the real needs of children in favor of the whims of parents and other adults. Our systems need reform.” Until that reform takes place, great CASA volunteers like Bridges will be speaking up for children in the courtrooms.
When asked how he connects with children involved in the cases he serves, Bridges said “I like to be a calm, reassuring presence for the children… I engage them in whatever they are doing. They will show me a favorite toy, or a pet, and we connect based on what interests them.”
Being a CASA volunteer, however, is not an easy job. Bridges says “The work of a CASA is often difficult, yet rewarding. There will be times of frustration, concern, worry, and success. It takes an effort to wade through the mostly noisy legal process.” Bridges continued to say that it can be difficult working with different attorneys who are simply trying to win a case for their clients; many times that is not necessarily in the best interest of the child. Bridges surmises “Our main concern as CASA’s is the immediate and long-term welfare of the child, regardless of what the parents or attorneys want. The reward is knowing that you have been a part of improving the present circumstances and future life of a child.”
Bridges shared a recent success in his work with CASA saying, “We were recently successful in blocking an unnecessary change in residence for a very young child that has already experienced a great deal of disruption in a short time. The attempted change would have been devastating to this child.”
In all, Bridges is a dedicated servant of abused and neglected children. That is the goal of all CASA volunteers and our organization as a whole. Speaking of the organization, Bridges says “The entire CASA team is dedicated to the work of improving the lives of children in distress. These are some of the most dedicated people I know.”
This selfless attitude and servant’s heart is exactly what children throughout Northeast Oklahoma need. That mindset is also what we look for here at Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma – CASA. We are in constant need of more dedicated volunteers. If you are inspired by Bridges’ story or the work we do in general of being the voice of neglected and abused children, do not hesitate to contact us for more information.
Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma/CASA
Child Advocates of Northeastern Oklahoma is a CASA agency that recruits, trains, and supports community volunteers to be the “voice” for abused and neglected children in the judicial system.
With offices in Claremore and Miami, the organization supports CASA volunteers in five counties in northeastern Oklahoma – Rogers, Mayes, Craig, Ottawa, and Delaware Counties. The agency also serves the courts of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.
Child Advocates of Northeastern Oklahoma is a member agency of the United Way of Rogers and Mayes Counties and the Ottawa County United Way.
People interested in learning more about CASA can find information about on the agency’s website: http://cano-casa.com/. To support the work of our CASA volunteers, go to http://cano-casa.com/ways-to-give/ and click on the “donate” button.