By Michelle Whalen, CASA EDM Volunteer
From the first time I met Lou on June 9, 2015 I knew we would be good buddies. His smile lights up a room, he loves to listen to music and he loves to be with people. When I discovered we shared the same birthday I knew we were friends for life!
Lou was one of the first students in the CASA of Philadelphia’s Educational Decision Makers (EDM) program. Lou was in a pediatric residential living facility and his judge felt his team needed support to make sure Lou received all the educational instruction he was entitled to. The court appointed me, as a CASA volunteer, to serve as his “educational parent” and work with Lou’s teachers, school administrators and his residential facility to be sure he was at school every day and received not only a proper education but also his various therapies. Lou was in three different programs during his high school years and every place he went everyone fell in love with him.
Most recently Lou has been part of the Bucks County We’re Outstanding Workers (WOW) program. Through WOW, more than a dozen 18- to 21-year-olds learn daily life skills and real-world work experience while providing a range of services to the community.
WOW operates two vans, and its student workers offer several services: “We’re Blooming,” which provides yard work; “We’re Scantastic,” a service that digitizes VHS tapes and photos; and “We Care,” which takes day-old bread to local food pantries, delivers Meals on Wheels and take boxes of donated food to the elderly and disabled in a senior housing complex.
This program was a great opportunity for Lou, and exactly 6 years from our first meeting I had the honor to watch Lou graduate from the WOW Program on the stage of William Tennent High School. I am so proud of all he has accomplished and I am honored to call him my buddy!