Jim Segarra is a man of many talents. He's an amateur photographer and picture framer, self-confessed “dog whisperer,” and of course, experienced CASA volunteer advocate. These pursuits all have one thing in common: dedication, patience, and the willingness to make slow and steady progress, even when that progress can be hard to detect. These qualities are among the reasons why Case Supervisor Sarah During nominated Jim to be Passaic County CASA’s Volunteer of the Month for August 2018.
In his two years as a CASA volunteer, Jim has served as an advocate for eight children in foster care. While each child has been special to Jim, his face particularly lights up when he talks about two teenage brothers he’s currently advocating for. This special bond between them and “Mr. Jim,” as they call him, is evident. Whether it is playing basketball, getting a bite to eat, or talking on the phone, Jim enjoys guiding them and being there for them.
A CASA’s true impact is often not apparent for months, or even years. For Jim, that moment of realization came when he helped one of the boys overcome his profound fear of meetings with child welfare caseworkers and lawyers. It also really touched Jim when one of the boys invited him four months ahead of time to attend his graduation. The boy kept reminding Jim about the graduation, clearly worried that Jim might forget. However, of course, Jim was there.
Jim says he sees his role as a CASA to be “that one anchor for them. “You’ve got goals,” he tells his boys, “and you’re going to reach them.” It just takes a little dedication and patience, which these boys are learning, thanks to Jim.