THE PERSON BEHIND THE BADGE: CHARLOTTE HORN
Our CASA Volunteer featured this month, Charlotte Horn, is a 5th generation Austinite, whose great, great, great grandfather owned a bathhouse on Shoal Creek, where a park named for him now resides. Her parents moved to Bastrop County when Charlotte was 16 years old and she graduated from Lexington High School. Charlotte lives in McDade and has been a caregiver for her father who has battled health issues the past few years and also has a sister who is a teacher in McDade. She is the proud mother of Sam and Megan, who are 28 and 25 respectively and a very proud grandmother to three and a half grandchildren, with the one-half due to arrive in December!
Charlotte was a state employee for 31 years. She spent seventeen years with the Texas Department of State Health Services and finished out her career as a Program Specialist with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. While with the Health Services Department, Charlotte worked in the lab that processed for the State of Texas, all newborn screenings – as she commented “that’s a whole lot of babies!” That lab was also responsible for other testing; such as, TB, venereal diseases and HIV. She then moved into the Environmental Lab and from there to Immunizations. She proudly states that back in the day, she knew the shot record schedule by heart! While at the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality, she worked in the Rules section of the legal office and as a Program Specialist she spent four years conducting public hearings, tracking rule making projects, and proofing and submitting rules to the Texas Register for publication.
Charlotte gives CASA credit for giving her a good reason to retire. A co-worker came to her one day and began to share her experiences as a CASA in Travis County. It was just what Charlotte needed to hear. For Charlotte, it solidified what her mother, who passed away in 2007 from breast cancer, instilled in Charlotte through example. Her mom, being a teacher for many years, believed children to be the most precious beings on earth. And she walked the talk each and every day. Charlotte continues to be motivated by what her mother instilled in her and knows in her heart that the advocacy she is doing for her CASA children would make her mother proud. Charlotte feels so strongly about this, she feels her mother is right there with her, guiding her, during her monthly visits with her CASA children. Charlotte is a bit of a road warrior too, although she calls it “her adventures,” and enjoys getting on the road to visit her CASA children, no matter where they are placed. When she is not on the road, she enjoys making stuffed animals, sewing clothing or quilts together, reading mystery books, or dabbling in graphic design. And, if you were ever wondering what her favorite animal is, well, it’s cows! In fact, she claims her home looks like a Hallmark Store with cows everywhere. She thinks they are “so cute” and names each and every one of them. Blame it on her dad, as he had a few and more than likely, she acquired a fondness while growing up in the country.
Even though she has had twelve cases in her five years with CASA, Charlotte still fondly remembers her first case, stating “those babies were my babies.” She admits having a hard time letting go, being her first case and becoming attached to the family. But since then, Charlotte has gained more case work experience and has been able to recognize the importance of setting boundaries while working a case. In looking back, she states, “some people don’t like working with the parents, because of what has happened. But you have to be objective and see their side of things too. You have to support them to make it, to do well. It is very easy to get attached, but I know that it is important for the children to be with their family. And I’m not their family. They were back with mom and they were safe, happy and provided for, and that was the main thing.” She concludes, “it’s not about me, it’s about the kids.”
CASA Advocate Supervisor, Sylvia Olson further states, “Charlotte has been a CASA working Lee County cases for over four years. She brings years of experience to the organization that is priceless. Previously, Charlotte was the only Lee County CASA and has taken multiple cases at a time. One of her current cases is one of the toughest cases we have. I am mesmerized by Charlotte’s devotion and persistence. When all others have failed, she is the one who stood strong in the face of unbelievable adversity. She stood strong and listened. These children received the counseling they so desperately needed and the protection they deserved. Charlotte continues to advocate for these children even as she struggles to care for her father. She even goes out of her way to find resources and clothes for the children. I am so fortunate to have known Charlotte for these past few months, as a CASA Volunteer. I am most fortunate to have known her as a friend.”
Charlotte further explains that seeing first-hand what abuse does to these children and their thoughts is just heartbreaking, and she is determined to do her best by giving them a voice.
In fact, she states, she will never quit. Her work with CASA has given her a purpose. She believes CASA has changed her life in many ways. First, she feels bonded and part of a community. She states, “you can just feel it, the people in CASA are awesome. I have had three wonderful Supervisors, and Kristi, our Executive Director, never lets me down with her “let’s take care of it” attitude addressing any kind of problem that might arise. Secondly, she finds happiness in helping the children, as her mother did all those years, and it has also helped her appreciate her own children. And thirdly, a self-professed introvert, Charlotte admits always being shy and afraid to speak up. But, being a voice for her CASA children, has helped Charlotte find her voice. She tells of a recent jury trial she participated in for her case – her first. She recalls sitting in the witness box and thinking to herself, “I got this.” No fear, only confidence that has grown through her showing up and speaking up for children that deserve a chance. That’s our CASA Charlotte, making a difference one child at a time!