Erin Smith is the founding executive director of CASA of Lafayette County (Mississippi). “If it weren’t for Kappa Alpha Theta,” she says, “I wouldn’t know what National CASA/GAL is!”
As a member of the Epsilon Zeta Chapter at the University of Mississippi, Erin was inspired by the impact local CASA programs can have on the lives of a community’s most vulnerable children, and she knew she wanted to remain involved with CASA programs. Following graduation, she began volunteering for the nearest CASA program—more than an hour away. “Through that work over four years, I truly found an organization that I was incredibly passionate about.”
Realizing the need for a CASA program in her hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, Erin began the groundwork for CASA of Lafayette County. This was a huge undertaking, she recalls, and Erin takes pride in being told that CASA of Lafayette County has been the best thing to happen to the youth court. “That makes all the obstacles worth it. We currently have 31 volunteers and are serving 100 percent of the children in foster care.
“The impact a CASA volunteer can have on the life of a child is incredible. We can change sadness, hopelessness and feelings of not being loved into happiness, letting children know that we are here to ensure their safety and that they are lovable. Seeing children reunified with parents or getting adopted is one of the most incredible feelings, because we then know that we did, in fact, change a child’s story.”
“Theta teaches us, as both undergraduates and alumnae, to be selfless and to give back. For Thetas across the world, CASA’s mission aligns with the core value of service to others.”