June is Pride Month, and as an agency, we are proud to celebrate all of our LGBTQ+ and Ally CASA Volunteers. This month, we are highlighting an extraordinary Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Volunteer, Eric Vernon-Cole, who LIFTS UP foster youth with PRIDE. Get to know him beyond his advocacy. Scroll down to see how you can get involved this Pride Month and support our LGBTQ+ foster youth!
June Advocate Spotlight: Eric Vernon-Cole, CASA Volunteer
Years of service with Child Advocates of Silicon Valley: 8 Months
Number of children served: 1 total
From sunny southern California to Seattle showers, Eric now resides in tech hub San Jose. As a school psychologist for San Jose Unified School District, Eric felt like he had more to give. Being gay himself, Eric is at a point in his life where he wants to give his time to an organization that works with children, especially fostering a supportive environment for LGBTQ+ foster youth. Eric’s friends who are also CASA Volunteers, some of which also work for Child Advocates, told him about the CASA Program.
Eric has been on his first case since October of 2021, and so far it’s going well. Eric has learned to come into his advocacy journey with a positive attitude and with no expectations. Advocating for foster youth has been such an eye-opening yet rewarding experience for him. Eric has even gotten close with a fellow CASA Volunteer he met during pre-service training. Together, they advocate for foster youth siblings, go on outings and support one another for the foster siblings. Eric is thankful for having a fellow CASA as an additional support system during his first assignment.
“It’s not about me, it’s about being there for them. Relationships mean everything, and it’s about the quality of relationships which will help with the outcome of these children” – Eric Vernon-Cole
Eric has learned during his experience as a CASA Volunteer that building 1-on-1 relationships with his youth, their resource family, and even with his fellow CASA Volunteer, Mauren G, is very important. Eric also gets excited whenever his foster youth progresses well developmentally and socially. In only 8 months since he first started his case, he has seen his foster youth begin to be more confident speaking to others, making lots of new friends, and becoming more socially engaging. Getting to see his foster youth grow shows Eric that being their CASA Volunteer is truly making an impact on their life.
One of Eric’s favorite memories so far with his foster youth was getting to celebrate their birthday with them. As a CASA Volunteer, one of the many ways that Child Advocates supports CASAs and foster youth is by having a CASA Store, which is located at their office in Milpitas. The CASA Store is a place where CASAs and foster youth can come for any necessities and wants, such as toys, shoes, school supplies, and more. Every item is donated and brand new, and are offered at no cost to our foster youth. Eric’s foster kid only wanted a bouncy ball for their birthday, so Eric went on a mission to the CASA Store and went above and beyond by not only getting his foster kid a bouncy ball but also other toys such as Legos and hot wheels also.
“It was really cool to go to the CASA Store with the child in mind and to take what I think they will like and spend time wrapping each gift. Going to their birthday and seeing them receive and open the gifts was such a special time to experience with them. That has been my favorite memory so far as a CASA.” – Eric Vernon-Cole.
Being able to make long-lasting memories with his foster child is just one of the many ways that Eric does as a CASA to help strengthen and build that 1-on-1 relationship with them. Eric continues to build that 1-on-1 relationship with them by SHOWING UP, consistently meeting with them in person every Sunday. Whenever they cannot meet in person, he will try to meet with them virtually through Zoom, or make it up to his foster child at the next outing. Eric’s advice to current and future CASAs is to be realistic, not set unrealistic expectations, and be flexible with their schedules.
Fun Facts About Eric:
A Must Watch Movie You Recommend To Everyone: In honor of #PrideMonth, Eric recommends watching the 1996 American adaptation version of the movie, The Birdcage, starring the late Robin Williams and talented Nathan Lane. The Birdcage is a comedy classic film with a plot that revolves around LGBTQ+ themes.
Last Book You Read: Eric is currently reading a book called On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. The novel consists of various letters written by Ocean to his mother in regards to his family story, growing up as an Asian-American and coming out as LGBTQ+.
Favorite Hobby(ies): One of Eric’s favorite pastime hobbies is to go cycling. Recently, Eric participated in the Aids Lifecycle, which is a 7-day long and 545 miles long cycling tour from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for HIV/AIDS services and awareness. This year, over 2,000 cyclists participated in the Aids Lifecycle.
*Eric would like to give a very special shoutout to his fellow CASA Volunteer. who consistently helps and supports Eric along with the foster siblings that they both advocate for. Thank you again to Eric and all of our CASA Volunteers for SHOWING UP for foster youth.*
Support LGBTQ+ Foster Youth
This #PRIDEMonth, we ask you to SHOW UP and Give OUT by supporting the work we do alongside Eric to help LIFT UP our LBGTQ+ foster youth. There are three ways you can help:
- Participate in our Give OUT Day Fundraiser. Give OUT Day Give OUT Day is the only national day of giving for the LGBTQ community. Child Advocates of Silicon Valley is PROUD to participate and is committed to providing our LGBTQ+ foster youth with the nurturing support and resources needed to thrive. Donate now!
- Become an Advocate and an Ally for LGBTQ+ foster youth. Participate in our Give OUT Day info session (June 30 from 12-1 p.m. on Zoom) to learn how you can become a CASA Volunteer. Sign up now!
- Help us recruit more Advocates and Allies. Tell a friend about our Give OUT Day info session or promote it on your social media.
All donations made between now and June 30th will be MATCHED up to $25,000 thanks to the generous support of the Quest Foundation.