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Entry date: 10-17-2022 - One More Peek at Casa - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Happy Monday everyone.

I wrote about Casa back in mid-February and went into some detail about it. I worked there full-time from October of 1997 to June of 2008. I really enjoyed the programs we did and it was a tremendous learning experience for me.

I worked with some very interesting people in the prevention department. Initially, as I mentioned earlier in the year, I was one of about 20 people or so who were dedicated to helping children out in the field. My boss, Judy, was a former teacher and one of my mom’s best friends from high school. Judy taught me a lot about what it means to be in a classroom, and I will always be thankful for that.

Erika was in a supervisory role, and she couldn’t have been cooler. Very supportive and a great listener. I enjoyed working with her quite a bit. She and her husband, Peter, had moved out to Phoenix from the east coast and were so great together. We are still in contact a bit on Facebook, and it is lovely to see how their family has grown.

Aunt Julie got hired on to run the office from an administrative perspective and that was great. She was awesome with contacting the schools and always made sure all our schedules were easy to follow. I didn’t get to the office that much, but I enjoyed the time I got to have with her there. Unfortunately, there were some issues with how finances were being handled and Judy, Aunt Julie, and Erika all left Casa over it.

I stayed because I loved the mission of what was happening and I loved what I got to do each day. You also couldn’t beat the nice, mellow summer schedule and for the most part, I always got paid on time. There were sketchy times, for sure, and it ended with a lot of uncertainty, but I’ll get to that.

I was 28 when I started at Casa and kind of in the middle of the pack, age-wise. I got to be pretty close with a tall, hilarious dude named Patrick who is now a lawyer down in Tucson. He was the son of a gal named Linda who worked in the main office for the whole agency. Casa was huge at that point. Probably around 70 full-and-part-time staff if you included all the advocates and counselors. Our meetings were gigantic.

Pat’s brother, Chris, did the IT stuff for the agency and was also pretty damn funny. Snarky is really a better way to describe Chris, but I liked him. Most of the prevention staff were female and that was bothersome to my ex-wife, but outside of one weird situation, none of my co-workers ever made it awkward or uncomfortable. I did have to kind of report sexual harassment to my boss at one point and the gal who was giving me the attention left the agency.

Funny thing, she taught kids all day long about sexual violence and regularly discussed sexual harassment.

I haven’t stayed in touch with any of my old co-workers from the early days at Casa except for just a few and that’s on social media only. Towards the end of my first tenure at Casa, a woman named Carrie started working there in administration and I loved working with her. She was from North Dakota, like my boss, Stephanie, and she was awesome. Carrie always got stuff taken care of and had my back. It’s always good to have someone like that at your work. She and her husband moved out to San Diego years ago but we still keep in contact via email.

Over the years, though, I worked with several people that I really enjoyed talking to and watching them work. In about my third year at Casa I started doing supervisory stuff and I loved going out to see how people were doing in the classrooms. Coaching people became one of my favorite things to do. Must be the teacher in me.

I also got to know quite a few very interesting people at the different schools I frequented. I loved going to the Catholic schools. It was kind of like being on a working vacation. The kids were often well behaved and really enjoyed having a guest speaker. I also liked going to group homes and places where the kids had gotten themselves into some kind of trouble. I enjoyed getting to see the real versions of people.

When you are working with kids who feel as if they have nothing to lose, it can be very freeing. They would try to push me out of my comfort zone a lot, but it was easy to turn those efforts back into how they could use assertive communication or give them examples of healthy boundaries.

By 2008, though, the writing was on the wall. Casa’s funding had gone lower and lower and while Stephanie didn’t want me to leave, she could not guarantee me anything close the salary I had been making for about six years. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was a lot for a struggling agency. I don’t think Stephanie took a paycheck for a long time even though people accused her of bilking money from the agency from time to time.

I had to make a choice that I didn’t want to ever make. We had Liam and Teresa in 2006 and 2007 and I didn’t have the ability to go to hourly and not get paid if there was no work. I looked around and applied for a lot of jobs. Eventually one bit and I got hired at a place called Televerde.

Now, I am not going to go into Televerde tomorrow because tomorrow is my birthday and I want to talk about my birthday, but I will go into Televerde soon. It will take a few days or more to get through that experience. I’m also a little scared of going into it, to be honest.

See you tomorrow.

This was from some time in 2006-2008. Not sure but I kind of recognize these kids. They are all in their 30s now.

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