A Unique Pairing
At Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, we know that having at least one accepting adult in an LGBTQ+ youth’s life can greatly improve their overall well-being. We also know that the relationship between a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer and their youth leads to better outcomes when the youth can relate to the adult.
Betsy Rapp is an edgy CASA Volunteer who loves punk/metal rock and is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Due to her distinct hobbies, our LGBTQ+ Specialist, Nicholas Aguilar, immediately knew to pair Betsy with Sammy, a punk/metal rock-loving teen who identifies as non-binary and uses “they/them” pronouns.
“It’s kind of serendipitous. Now that I know Sammy, I really can’t imagine them finding a more relatable CASA to connect with,” said Betsy.
Due to their similar interests, Betsy and Sammy frequently participate in creative activities together, such as crafting patches for Sammy’s jacket. Recently, Betsy and Sammy worked on the teen’s submission to our agency’s youth-centered virtual event celebrating Pride Month, Art of Pride. To stimulate creativity and curiosity, Betsy took Sammy to San Francisco where they visited the site for transgender activism, Compton’s Cafeteria, to learn about the historic riot that took place there.
“Sammy has interests in anti-police brutality and I wanted to bridge how that message made sense for pride,” said Betsy. “We talked about historical LGBTQ+ riots, like Stonewall and Compton’s Cafeteria, which prompted us to talk about Pride as protests for the art showcase.”
Although Sammy has a great relationship with Betsy, the youth continues to have challenges with high-risk behaviors, including substance abuse. Youth with high-risk behaviors can often feel overwhelmed with stressful situations and environments, which can lead to impulsive actions. As their CASA Volunteer, Betsy is understanding of Sammy’s feelings and mental health.
“There’s comfort in knowing somebody is there that doesn’t have power over you and is there just to be there for you and with you. They are more candid, which has led to some positive changes in the case.”
All CASAs are trained and supported to serve our foster children but it takes special individuals to be patient, consistent and accepting when working with youth who deal with behavior challenges. Having an adult that can do the above and relates to the youth, can make a positive difference.
“Every time I read the activities and goals Betsy is working towards, I know these two are the perfect match for each other,” said Nick. “Betsy, being the unique individual she is, provides her youth with far more than an Advocate. She is someone who can relate, empathize, and most importantly SHOW UP no matter what is going on for the youth.”
Disclaimer: The story is based on Betsy Rapp’s experience as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer. Some details about the foster youth she serves have been altered in an effort to keep the youth’s identity anonymous.