by Michelle Tremblay | photo by Southern California Golf Association

A Voice for the Children


photo by Samantha Gleaton Photography

Tim Riley and Katherine Van Dusen Randazzo are both Carlsbad residents. Katherine and her husband made the move to Carlsbad about four years ago to be closer to her 98-year-old mother. “This area has the best weather and the best proximity to shopping and dining,” gushed Katherine. Tim, on the other hand, has lived in the community for 30 years and he loves Carlsbad for “the diversity of people and the ability to be outdoors all year long.” But living in Carlsbad isn’t the only thing these two have in common; they are also both passionate about volunteering for a local nonprofit group called Voices for Children – an organization that recruits and trains volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) to represent and advocate for San Diego’s foster children.

“I found out about CASAs while at jury duty,” recalled Tim. “The mystery of being handed a case and walking into the life of a complete stranger and helping them navigate their way to a goal that you tease out of them is the most exhilarating and rewarding thing I have ever done.” Tim explained that his role as a CASA is to be a “fact-finder” and an “extra set of ears and eyes” for the overseeing judges. “The classroom and online training was comprehensive and practical and prepares you for what to expect,” he elaborated.

Name: Tim Riley
Communtiy: Carlsbad
Volunteer Affiliation: Voices for Children
Family: Married with 2 children
Hobbies: Golf, travel, road biking on PCH

Name: Katherine Van Dusen Randazzo
Communtiy: Carlsbad
Volunteer Affiliation: Voices for Children
Family: Husband, two sisters, three nieces and nephews, one mother of 98 years
Hobbies: Staying fit, watching tennis, playing with our cats (and dogs when we have them), reading both fiction and non-fiction

Before volunteering as a CASA, Katherine had thought about being one for many years. “One of my abiding passions is helping abused and neglected children,” shared Katherine. “When I finally reduced my work hours enough that I could make this commitment, I looked up the organization and called to start.” She added that her primary role as a CASA is looking for ways to get her case child what she needs. “A CASA is a person the child can trust to stay with her through thick and thin,” noted Katherine.

Both Tim and Katherine admit that volunteering as a CASA does not come without its fair share of obstacles. “Developing the initial trust and building a relationship in the beginning is challenging,” said Tim. “Overcoming bureaucratic and other obstacles that stand in the way of realizing the dependency court’s mandate of acting in the best interests of the child,” added Katherine. But these volunteers also agree that the rewarding aspects of the job far outweigh its challenges. “While the youth clearly benefits, the rewards that come back to the CASA are huge,” said Tim. “It is easy for the child to fall through the cracks of the system,” stated Katherine. “Seeing that you have really made a positive difference in the child’s life is extremely rewarding.”