Travelers, Disney Fans, and CASA of CGS Volunteer Advocates
The courtroom brimmed with over fifty of their closest friends and relatives, all eager to celebrate the decision ahead. It was February of 2020, and after becoming first-time foster parents to 8-month-old twins two years prior, Heather and Michael Zimmerman were overjoyed to gather with their loved ones on this meaningful day. They had felt a calling towards adoption ever since their marriage over a decade ago, and at last that calling had become reality.
Fostering their twins had opened Heather and Michael’s eyes to what goes on in the system–and once their eyes were open, they knew that they could not turn their backs on the children impacted by foster care. They grew passionate about supporting these children however they could, and once their fostering journey came to an end, they looked for other ways to give back–and that’s when they joined CASA of CGS.
“As foster parents, it was shocking to learn about the amount of kids impacted by the system. We knew that we had to do something,” said Michael. “Being a CASA seemed like a perfect next step after fostering. Being able to help, even if it's one kid at a time, is just so important.”
“And advocating for children in foster care has now become our life,” added Heather. “There’s always something you can do to help.”
Heather and Michael joined CASA of CGS together just over a year ago and are working on their second case, which they are tackling together as a volunteer team. Their own experience as foster parents guides them as they support the best interests of the children they serve while making concerted efforts to keep the foster parents they work with in the loop with open communication. Their phenomenal advocacy also draws upon their years of volunteering through their church as educators.
“Both Heather and Michael are devoted advocates,” said Vivian Salmon, their Cumberland County Advocate Coordinator. “Voluminous medical and investigative records have not deterred them as they seek to learn their CASA children's history and define areas of concern going forward. This dynamic CASA team is also exceptionally diligent in court report writing and entering timely contact logs.”
Between Michael’s career as a Design Engineer at a nuclear power plant in Salem and Heather’s as a full-time mother of four, the power couple always goes out of their way to remind the children they serve that they are loved and supported, whether that’s by giving them duffel bags full of essentials and care items, playing puzzles together, or just showing up with a Wendy’s frosty. It’s these moments–getting to know them and putting a smile on their faces–that make it all so rewarding.
“You always hear people say that ‘anybody can make a difference,’ and now that we’ve gotten involved with CASA I really do believe it,” said Heather. “When the judge listens to my recommendations and makes them happen it really does feel like you’re making a difference.”
Within this short year since they joined our CASA team, Heather and Michael have already led children to adoption–an especially emotional experience that brought back memories of their own adoption journey years prior; they work seamlessly as a volunteer team on their now second case; and they consistently demonstrate their passion and commitment to children in foster care and their families.
Heather and Michael are true CASA superheroes who are changing a child’s story each and every day. Thank you both for everything you do–your hard work never goes unnoticed!