MANCHESTER, NH – The backgrounds and interests held by CASA of New Hampshire’s volunteer advocates [CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates] are nothing if not diverse.
Take Rob DiGregorio for example. DiGregorio’s career as an educational interpreter for deaf and hard of hearing children spans more than 20 years. He works full time for a local school district and in his free time, he participates in a league sport with the Merrimack Valley Curling Club in Nashua.
You know curling. It’s that Olympic sport where players slide polished granite stones down an ice lane while teammates brush or sweep the ice around the stone as it slides to home. DiGregorio got into curling more than a decade ago when he was living near the Canadian border in Vermont.
“Curling is wildly popular in Canada, and gaining popularity here in the U.S.,” says DiGregorio.
A friend referred him to CASA thinking he would be a great child advocate. As it turns out, DiGregorio’s friend was right. “It’s a natural fit,” he says, and it has offered him an opportunity to work with children in a different capacity than his interactions with his career. He believes it’s important to get involved because of the glimpses of child abuse and neglect he sometimes hears about working within a public school setting.
DiGregorio believes the importance of CASA’s work lies directly in what it is intended to do: providing a voice for a child in the court, where it must be heard.
“The bureaucracy can get to be a bit much,” DiGregorio says. “I want to ensure the child’s voice is heard. It’s so important.”
DiGregorio currently advocates for four children from two different families. He says the role he’s taken on as a volunteer CASA has given him better insight into one of the biggest social and health issues in New Hampshire at the moment.
“It has been quite interesting and eye opening,” he says. “I have a much better understanding of people struggling with addiction than I did before becoming a CASA. The power of addiction appears to sometimes be more powerful and overpowering than even the parental instincts. It really surprised me. It’s shocking and heartbreaking.”
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