Guest Essay by Dennis Kampe: “Volunteerism”

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In appreciation of our CASA volunteers, we’d like to share this brief essay by CASA volunteer Dennis Kampe. Read below as Dennis reflects on some of his own childhood experiences and how they prepared him for a life of service towards young people. We at YWCA Clark County are so grateful for volunteers like Dennis, whose passion and dedication inspire us and help us live out our mission each and every day!

I was raised on a 25-acre farm in Ridgefield. I struggled in my early years in school, eventually failing the 4th grade. My older sister and brother were out of the house by the time I was in the 7th grade. My mother died when I was 15, and my dad drank excessively. By age 13 I was on my own and responsible for all aspects of the family farm and my life. My high school years were the most difficult and painful years in my life.

Like so many teenagers I had many unspoken struggles and no one to talk to. As an adult, I can now look back on those years, and even with my struggles, I can see some positives in my life. I learned responsibility, I learned the value of hard work, and I learned to trust my ability to get the job done. These life experiences created in me an empathy for, and a desire to serve, young people. Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, as I got older that desire became a crystal-clear focus in my life; to serve, to listen to, and mentor the youth in my life through love, respect, and empathy. This ultimately led me to 42 years of service in education, and now three years as a CASA.

I have discovered the value and life-changing impact of volunteers. Volunteers take a vision and a plan for success and they become the fabric, the glue, and the momentum for greatness that defines the quality and character of a community. Volunteerism has been a major part of my life for the benefit of our youth. Clark County CASA has a powerful impact on our youth who find themselves victims of adult “stinkin thinkin” and are thrown into the legal maze. CASA loves, cares, listens, and speaks for youth in what can easily be their most troubling times.

I AM CASA, I AM FOR THE CHILD!