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Changing Despair to Hope

Nicole Karch Beaman

Being a CASA volunteer has been “more of an enlightening and rewarding experience than I ever thought,” Nicole Karch—then an undergraduate in the Beta Kappa Chapter at Drake University—remarked in a 1992 article in Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine.

Three decades later, Nicole Karch Beaman credits her CASA volunteer experience with building the foundation for her future. She is vice president of The Orchard Place Child Guidance Center in Des Moines, Iowa, a safety-net service for children and adolescents with mental health issues, serving all regardless of their ability to pay. She leads a team of about 120 staff, delivering outpatient and community-based services to more than 5,000 clients a year. “I still have my CASA certificate from when I was sworn in by the judge, hanging beside my social work license.”

Nicole explains that a child who is assigned a CASA/GAL volunteer is one who has undergone trauma and upheaval, likely been part of the child welfare system, maybe been in foster care, likely experienced abuse and likely not had a caring adult in their life. A CASA volunteer, Nicole says, “can literally change their story from one of despair to one of hope,” she adds.

Nicole believes the connection between Theta and CASA/GAL is a natural byproduct of shared values. “As a CASA volunteer, you are of service to others. As a Theta, you are taught that same core value. Just like the kite, the touch of CASA volunteers soars and carries many through times of hopelessness toward hope.”

“The first case I had was a family with five children, the oldest just five years younger than me. Because of this powerful and pride-filled experience, I chose to pursue a master’s degree in social work, and I have no doubt being a CASA volunteer built the foundation for my future.”


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