Mother, Graduate Student, and CASA of CGS Gloucester County Advocate
Hearts that give will always discover ways to touch the lives of others, no matter what the circumstances. In the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, individuals and communities found the strength within them to unite in the spirit of giving, doing whatever they could to ease the communal burden of COVID-19. People nationwide understood the urgency to give. And for Gloucester county native Lisa Niezgoda, it was the perfect time to make a difference in the lives of those greatly impacted by the pandemic: children in foster care.
It was the Spring of 2021 and former Deptford High School Math Teacher Lisa Niezgoda was taking some time off from her Master’s program in School Counseling at Wilmington University. With 14 years of academic experience under her belt, she was searching for meaningful ways to give back that would not only benefit her community, but would likewise align with her growing passion for social work. And after a fateful encounter at her daughter’s girl scout troop meeting, Lisa knew exactly what that calling would be: becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate of Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties (CASA of CGS).
“When I learned about CASA from Joanna Corsino, I remember thinking that it was so unique that you got trained and court appointed to advocate and speak on behalf of someone,” said Lisa. “And once I became a CASA advocate it felt really good to help someone else. Even if you only work with one child, you have no idea what kind of impact you are going to make on that child’s life with the advocacy you give them.”
And Lisa’s advocacy has been nothing short of amazing.
With no prior volunteer experience, Lisa became a CASA of CGS volunteer advocate in May of this year and has done exceptional work on her first case, from advocating for family therapy to building a strong bond with her CASA youth.
“Lisa has been such a blessing to her adolescent,” says her Advocate Coordinator, Michele Musick. “From the moment she started the case she instantly became a positive force not only for the adolescent, but her family. It was such a difficult time for all and Lisa entered bringing commitment, wisdom, support, guidance, and a relentless pursuit to do what is best for the adolescent, which, in turn, brought much needed permanency into the young lady's life. Lisa has been an inspiration to me and I couldn't ask for a better advocate.”
Making connections and cultivating relationships isn’t always easy, especially with a youth who is experiencing a whirlwind of changes, new faces, and perhaps has lacked the presence of a consistent adult in their life. But Lisa truly believes in the power of relationships and the change that can be affected from them. Now, with the connection they’ve built, Lisa’s CASA youth opens up to her about her emotions and expresses how much she misses her. For Lisa, those moments are what makes it all worthwhile.
“Seeing my CASA child’s situation change for the better is so rewarding. A lot of children don’t have a positive role model in their lives, and it’s incredible to be that for them,” said Lisa. “This experience teaches you to be more empathetic to what kids and parents and families could be going through and makes you take perspective on your own life.”
Thank you, Lisa, for putting your whole heart into your volunteer work with CASA. Your outlook on life and dedication to your CASA youth are inspiring, and we are so grateful that you joined our family this year. You are one of a kind and your hard work never goes unnoticed!