Our featured CASA Volunteer, Jorge Gomez was born and raised in the South Texas town of Kingsville. One of three children (he claims he is the oldest, smartest and the prettiest!), his family traces back to the King of Spain. After graduating high school, he began contemplating college, but Uncle Sam had other plans for him and he was drafted. Following in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps, Jorge served for two years. And soon, he is hoping that his grandson will carry on the family tradition.
After time in the military, Jorge took a job with IBM Corp. in Austin. Starting out driving a fork truck for $106 a week, he moved up the IBM ladder by working in Assembly, Finance and finally Information Technology where he held, for fifteen years, positions as Project Manager and Manager responsible for outsourcing contracts and interfacing with customers in Global Services during a time when IBM changed their business model and decided to concentrate on getting their hardware in other companies’ information technology groups, instead of their software. After 36 years with IBM, he retired in December of 2008.
Growing up around the King Ranch area greatly influenced Jorge’s passion of the outdoors, whether it be hunting, fishing, landscaping, mowing or working out in his yard. So it comes as no surprise, he was not too fond of city living, so he and his wife bought beachfront property in South Texas with plans to retire there. After giving it more consideration, Jane decided she still desired to be closer to a city’s amenities, so they compromised and sold their beachfront property and bought seven acres in the LaReata subdivision in Smithville where they have resided for seven years. Jorge currently serves on the LaReata Property Owners’ Association providing architectural leadership to the property owners. Jorge and Jane have been married for 29 years and have three children. Jorge had custody and raised his two boys as a single dad until he and Jane got married and then they raised all their children together.
In addition to enjoying the outdoors and outdoor activities, Jorge is a fitness buff. Although back in the day, Jorge did competitive power lifting, he still dabbles in it a little. He works out daily and tries to ride his bike at least 100 miles a week.
One morning, Jorge and his wife were enjoying a cup of coffee together and she mentioned an article she saw in the paper about CASA and suggested he check it out. Jane had been volunteering at the Cancer Center for a long time and Jorge claims she had been working on shaming him into doing something for a while, after all, he was retired, you know. And in the past five months that Jorge has been a CASA Volunteer, yes, he is a “newbie,” he has really stepped up. He is currently working two cases and already managed to do some great things for all his CASA children.
He speaks of a special moment he had with his first CASA child upon meeting him. The CASA Supervisor for this case and Jorge had gone to do their first visit together after Jorge accepted the case. His Supervisor had mentioned to Jorge that the child had been standoffish and hadn’t interacted with her during her previous visits. Jorge remembers the visit well – the little one making eye contact with him, Jorge reaching out his hand while asking him if he wanted to go for a walk, the child taking his hand and leading him to the gate. An instant connection was made right then and there – just as if it was meant to be.
Jorge has had a lot of experience with children of all ages – whether it’s his brother’s grandkids who don’t want to go home after spending a fun-filled day with Uncle Jorge, or the kids he coached in baseball, softball and kickball, or training those who are starting out in power lifting. He enjoys making the connection and wants to be a role model for the children he works with.
Alicia Elam, CASA Advocate Supervisor states, “The compassion Mr. Jorge Gomez has shown to the children he serves as a new CASA Volunteer is an inspiration for all incoming Volunteers. I’ve noticed how he looks at the bigger picture to seek permanency, to ensure the relatives are able to meet the needs of the children in their care and he is always engaging in the next step of the case. We all know how hard it is for relatives who find themselves overwhelmed when they become permanent caregivers to our CASA kids. As an Advocate, Mr. Jorge has done an amazing job with communicating with the families and looking out for the best interest of the children for the long run. The families and children really respond well to Mr. Jorge. The generous time he gives checking in on the kids weekly has made a huge impact on the smooth transition from removal to family placement. As an Advocate Supervisor, I think of Mr. Jorge as a friend and colleague. I am grateful for the volunteer gift he brings to CASA and I enjoy partnering with him on cases. I look forward to many more years of fierce advocacy with him!