Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia
My twin brother and I were the youngest of seven kids. I was raised in Atlanta, Georgia and my family consisted of a father, mother, grandmother, three sisters and three brothers. At the age of 11, my father and mother divorced; at 12, my oldest brother drowned while attending his High School graduation picnic; at 17, my twin brother died of bone cancer; at 33, my youngest sister died of heart failure; at 42, my middle sister overdosed on drugs and on Tuesday, November 11, my brother, the third oldest member of the family, died of pancreatic cancer.

As a kid growing up, I had a very structured childhood. My father was employed by Southern Pacific Railroad and he was a deacon in a local church with very strong religious belief. As a Pullman Porter in the late fifties, he was instrumental in establishing the “Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters,” a union for black southern Pullman Porters. Needless to say with his involvement in the union, this brought on a new set of problems for the family (i.e. telephone threats, on the job harassments, etc.). My mother worked as a janitor at a local department store and my grandmother was a nanny for a white southern family for over 30 years. She was considered (by my standards), the R-O-C-K/FOUNDATION of the family. She was a woman of strong puritan ethics and those values were transferred to the kids. However, despite these teachings, we as a family had our problems. For example, my oldest sister is a recovering alcoholic and my middle sister died from a drug overdose. Her drug problem was attributed to her back pain medication that escalated to a heroin addiction.

No one in my family was sexually or emotionally abused (i.e. bullied), nor was there domestic violence. However we were disciplined (spanked) when we disobeyed our parents. My father believed if you “spare the rod, you spoil the child.” In looking back, I can remember when I challenged his beliefs and became physically ill, ill from a “left hook” to the kidneys. By the way, that happened once. You see I’m a quick learner.

Why I Became A CASA
I became a CASA June 2011 because I believe there are too many kids/young adults going to or currently in jail. As an advocate, I want to have a positive impact on a kids’ lives by gaining their “TRUST,” and thus eliminating some the stress and emotional pain that exists in their life. Additionally, I want to let them know that someone cares and how it feels to be loved. Simply put. The benefits from being a CASA, well, it’s not about me, it’s about the kids. I hope to use my life experiences to allow one, two, three or more kids to be a kid and not a convict.