Volunteer kept helping even after her home burned
Katy Fox kept volunteering to help abused and neglected kids even after her Talent neighborhood was leveled by fire.
“All the houses burned to the ground. The only thing standing is the pool and the mailboxes,” she said.
Fox lost her home and personal belongings to the Almeda fire in September 2020. But she still volunteers for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Jackson County.
In honor of her service, Jackson County commissioners named Fox the recipient of the county’s community service award for April.
“I was deeply honored that CASA nominated me and the commissioners selected me. I was surprised and stunned. I was blown over. I never expected it,” she said. “There are a lot of people doing wonderful things in the valley.”
CASAs go through training, then get to know kids who’ve suffered abuse and neglect, plus the people in those kids’ lives. They advocate for the best interests of children and make recommendations to judges about their futures. The youngsters can range in age from babies to 21.
Fox has been a CASA volunteer since 2015. She usually handles the cases of four to six kids at a time. Her one concession to the impacts of the fire was to taper down to one child while she works to put her own life back together.
She’s currently living in Ashland.
"In my mind, children are among the most vulnerable and are particularly dependent on adults to nurture and care for them. Seeing a child that is neglected or abused hurts my heart," Fox said.
CASA volunteers are supported by a staff of CASA workers. Staff members said Fox is always one of the first to step forward on a difficult case, and she serves as a mentor for new CASA volunteers.
Fox said people who want to become CASAs don’t have to have backgrounds in child-oriented careers like teaching. Before she retired, Fox worked in the business world on tasks like team development, leadership development and conflict resolution.
“You just have to have a passion for children and really care about children,” she said. “It’s not always easy work. You have to care about and advocate actively for the child or children you’re a CASA to. It’s a wonderfully rewarding job when you see children reunite with their family or get guardianship with an aunt or a grandparent or someone else until the parents can safely parent their children.”
CASAs not only research the needs of kids, they find out what help and services would help the whole family. Children with a CASA spend an average of 10 months less time in foster care, according to CASA of Jackson County.
According to estimates, more than 800 children in Jackson County are abused and/or neglected each year.
“I need to make a difference, and this is how I’ve decided to do it,” Fox said.
The next training for CASA of Jackson County volunteers starts May 18. For more information, call 541-734-2271 or visit jacksoncountycasa.org.