On Tuesday, December 13th, we had another great group of volunteers sworn in as Court Appointed Special Advocates by Judge Tim Irwin at the Knox County Juvenile Court . These five new volunteers are going to be exceptional advocates. As their trainer, I had the opportunity to see the passion they have for children exhibited repeatedly. These volunteers show up for five weeks, twice a week, to sit in a three hour long class. They always come in with reading (or anything else asked of them) done, eager to learn about what it means to be a CASA and how best to approach the work.
Since not everyone knows exactly what a swearing in entails I’ll give you a little rundown of what usually takes place. First off, everyone who is going to be sworn in meets in the lobby at Juvenile Court. This is an exciting time. Everyone is dressed to impress and often has friends or family with them to show their support. While we wait there always seems to be a kind of nervous energy present. I can only speak for myself as to why that is. I think it’s because in that moment of anticipation you really begin to consider the weight of what we, as CASAs, have signed up to do- suddenly what we’ve simply talked about is going to become a reality. We are going to advocate on behalf of children in abuse and neglect cases in the Knox County Juvenile Court- no small endeavor.
Once Judge Irwin is ready, CASA staff, current volunteers, CASA board members, court staff, and attending press file into the main courtroom. Those about to be sworn-in sit in the front row. Judge Irwin begins by thanking the volunteers for signing up to be CASA advocates. This is followed by a strong inducement to hold sacred the confidentiality that we are bound to protect. All new volunteers stand, take the oath, and then Judge Irwin signs the oaths. This is always followed by a photo session, where Judge Irwin always towers over our recently sworn-in volunteers. It makes for a great photo!
After pictures are taken and everyone leaves the courtroom we head over to the conference room for a reception. The reception is a small affair, but fun nonetheless. If you’ve never been to a swearing in, I suggest you come to one. I know we’d all appreciate your support for one of the most exciting days we get to share in at CASA. On this particular morning our swearing in reception ended with smiles, hugs, and this time around, several new volunteers left with a new case in hand, ready to begin the work they trained to undertake.
-Melissa Miller, Recruitment and Training Coordinator