Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma celebrates the advocacy of one of their Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers.

MIAMI – Each month, Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma (CANO) celebrates the advocacy of one of their Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers.

This month, CANO celebrates Barbara Loring, a volunteer advocate in Ottawa County since January of 2017.

Barbara is married to Ben Loring, her husband of 34 years. Together they have two grown sons and are eagerly awaiting grandchildren.

Barbara’s background is in education. She taught in Miami Public School’s elementary special education program for 33 years before retiring six years ago. She clearly has a passion for helping kids. Even though she is retired, she continues to work part-time in early childhood special education for the district.

Barbara is thankful for her part-time schedule. This has given her much more time to focus on projects she is passionate about. She is currently a member of the Gabriel Project with Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Miami Pilot Club, as well as a panel member of Graduated Sanctions for Ottawa County.

In addition to this, Barbara was given the chance to serve on the CANO-CASA board of directors. Barbara credits her volunteer work to being on the board, saying “I realized at that time that it was the perfect opportunity for me to go through the volunteer training. I did this to first, help me be a better board member and secondly, to fulfill a dream that I had for years… to be a CASA volunteer!”

“It is rewarding to be an advocate or a voice for children in a difficult situation,” Barbara says regarding her year and a half of volunteering. “Children in the foster system can get lost or don’t feel like they are heard. As a volunteer, you can be the one constant for the children and be their voice in court.”

One of the things Barbara enjoys most about volunteering for CASA is “seeing the children frequently and getting to know them… They are young children and we spend our time playing with what interests them, usually toys!”

There is, of course, a burden that comes with serving as a CASA volunteer. Barbara says “the biggest challenge as a volunteer is worrying about your children and making recommendations that are in their best interest.” However, no matter how difficult volunteering may seem, it is “rewarding when positive steps are made in working toward reunifying a family. It is great to be part of a team that is working toward a common goal.”

Barbara is exactly what the agency is looking for at CASA – a person with a huge heart for kids. In fact, the agency says it can never have too many volunteers and hosts trainings for prospective volunteers year round.

When asked what she would tell others about CASA, Barbara said “I would recommend pursuing the CASA volunteer training to anyone who has a love for children and a willingness to be their loving and consistent support during a difficult time. Visits with the children and realizing you are making a difference in some way in their lives is uplifting and rewarding.”

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.

Persons interested in learning more about CASA can find information about the agency on its website: www.cano-casa.com. To support the work of CASA volunteers, go to www.cano-casa.com/ways-to-give and click on the “donate” button.