Dinner, movies and little breakthroughs of trust — these are the simple, powerful moments that delight the subject of this month’s spotlight.
Meet Kelly Hover. In her day job, she’s a director of customer experience and strategy for the University. On her own time? She volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for a brother-sister foster child duo. The way she sees it, the two roles are pretty compatible.
At work, she focuses on making sure working adults have a great experience during their learning journey. “I love that my job is not just about access, but about student success,” says Hover, an 11-year University employee. “Just because most of our students couldn’t go to college at 18 doesn’t mean they can’t do it now. Our students break many cycles and propel their families forward.”
The same desire that drives Hover at work motivated her to look for a volunteer opportunity that would help children succeed. A testimony from a teenage girl who bounced around to 14 different foster homes ultimately convinced Hover that CASA was the volunteer opportunity for her.
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What really made an impression on Hover was that the teenager wanted to become a CASA herself when she turned 21 to pay forward the eight-year relationship her own CASA had offered.
The teenager received a full scholarship to attend college and, with the help of her CASA, found another mentor who eventually became her adoptive mother. Hearing her experience compelled Hover to help other children by becoming a CASA herself.
A rewarding experience
Hover has been a CASA since 2015. She worked with two brothers and their sister for 18 months, and then she met her current “best friends” — the brother and sister she’s worked with for two and a half years.
“I’ll stay with them until they’re adopted if they’re not able to go back to their biological parents,” Hover says.
She dedicates about 10 to 20 hours a month to being a CASA, which includes meeting with her assigned kids at least twice a month, taking them to dinner, to the movies or to fun activities sponsored by Voices for CASA Children — an Arizona affiliate of the National CASA Organization.
“The most rewarding part is that feeling when you have a little breakthrough and your kiddos trust you,” Hover says. “It doesn’t happen right away. But when they open up and share their fears, begin asking for help and using you as a shoulder to lean on … there’s no other feeling like it.”
Watch this short video featuring Kelly Hover’s experience, courtesy of the AZ Storytellers Project by Jack Chapman.