"What it means to 'Be a Man'”
Justin, who not only works full-time, but also coaches baseball, has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate for about two years where he has been consistently advocating for a teenage boy, whom we will call Tim. Throughout this time, during their weekly visits, the two have thrown football, played basketball as well as video games. Justin and Tim have also had some serious conversations about schoolwork, childhood memories, and – most recently – Tim’s thoughts about a pre-adoptive family. There have been laughs, but also been strong words and emotions. “I hope to teach him about compassion and openly processing his feelings, as well as looking out for and encouraging others”, stated Justin when reflecting on his time with Tim. “…things which truly represent what it means to ‘be a man’.”
It wasn’t always a picture perfect relationship for Justin and Tim. Justin put in the time and dedication to build a good rapport with Tim: driving over an hour each way, every Sunday to see him, in order to gain his trust and respect. “I made sure to not be ‘all business’ when I first started to meet Tim, and I shared about my own life experiences. When I felt we had some level of trust, I looked for opportunities to offer encouragement and counsel.” It was through their fun and games that Tim began to open up about his traumatic past, about reuniting with his sister that he had not seen in years, and his hopes for the future.
“It’s been such a rewarding experience; getting to see Tim be successful at school, how friendly and well-mannered of a young man he’s become,” shared Justin, who recently celebrated Tim’s birthday with him. In a recent visit with Tim, Justin shares this experience, “In the middle of playing a video game, [Tim] stopped and got my attention, looked me in the eyes and said ‘You know, I really appreciate you coming to visit and spending time with me.’ Moments like these show just how far he has come in expressing himself and also shows the impact that a CASA can have on the life of a child. This is by far the most fulfilling thing I have ever done in my life.”
Justin, who works in retail, has a degree in education from Millersville. Justin always had a passion for helping children, and is thankful for the opportunity to express that in both coaching and advocating. CASA is thankful for Justin, and that he’s showing all of us “what it means to be a man.”