The Benefit of Shared Experience
At Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, we recruit a diverse group of community members to become Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteers. We know that a child benefits from having a caring, stable adult in their life but we believe that benefit magnifies when the child can relate to the adult – when they have a shared experience.
Blake Baza is a CASA Volunteer with a shared experience some of our foster youth really benefit from. Blake identifies as a transman, and having medically and socially transitioned, he can relate to the obstacles our trans youth face, but more importantly, how to access the resources they need to thrive.
Recently assigned to a young adult that identifies as a transman, Blake is able to support his young adult in ways no one else previously could. From informing him on how to legally change his name and gender to connecting him with the transgender community as well as the greater LGBTQ community, Blake has made a significant impact in the young adult’s life. Blake is currently helping him receive services from the Gender Health Center at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and with applying for an LBGTQ housing program with Bill Wilson Center. Because of Blake’s help, his young adult can now affirm his identity proudly, an impactful act that many of us overlook.
Any one of our CASA Volunteers could have helped Blake’s young adult and he would have benefited. But having a shared lived experience makes a difference. Blake’s young adult is connected to all of the support and resources he needs but he also has someone he can talk to that knows exactly what he’s going through.