It’s not uncommon for a couple, or a group of friends or family members to volunteer together at their local CASA program… but it’s not often that you see a group quite like the Campbell sisters.
The six Campbell sisters – Bebe Church, Marian Freeman, Maria Mills, Lesa Maatouk, Tesa Wilson and Dede Howell – have all become Court Appointed Special Advocates as of July 2019, making them the largest group of family volunteers that East Texas CASA has ever seen.
“In all my years of volunteering and serving, I have never seen such an amazing group of women working together for a common goal,” said Shelly Smith, Executive Director of East Texas CASA.
Wilson and Church began the CASA family tradition when they took up the cause five years ago. Following their sisters’ examples and driven by their innate disposition for public service, one by one each of the Campbell sisters decided to also go through training and become CASA volunteers.
“There was no convincing or bribery involved! They just pretty much announced one by one that they wanted to sign up,” said Wilson. “I think knowing that I could work full time and still handle cases helped them to see that it’s not a lot of time to commit to.”
Working hard on behalf of the most vulnerable members of their community comes naturally to the Campbell sisters. They grew up in a family that always tried to foster kindness wherever they were. Raised by their parents to value and serve their neighbors, it was only a matter of time until they found CASA.
“I laugh because someone told me they knew if I feel strongly about something it must be a worthy cause. All of my sisters are like that also,” said Wilson. “We grew up in a family with loving parents that gave back big to the church and community. To be able to help a child that doesn’t have that is a wonderful feeling.”
When asked what it has been like working with the Campbell sisters, Smith said they are always willing to help in whatever way they can.
“In one word: available!” Smith said. “They are always here when we need help for projects, committees or spreading the word. All of the sisters help us whenever we need anything.”
On July 10, 2019, at an emotional ceremony at the 307th District Court, Howell was sworn in as the sixth and final Campbell sister to become a CASA volunteer. As if this weren’t amazing enough, in addition to the six sisters, sister-in-law Sharon Campbell and Freeman’s daughter Katie are also advocates. This brings the family’s CASA volunteer grand total to eight!
“If you have the ability to help [children], you should, and with CASA you can. Be the difference! Be the voice that makes the difference in the life of a child!” said Wilson.
One by one, the Campbell family has become a powerful part of a movement to support children in the East Texas community who have experienced abuse or neglect. Because of their dedication, and the dedication of all CASA volunteers, the movement continues to grow. Last year, nearly 11,000 CASA volunteers advocated for more than 30,000 children all across the Lone Star State.
You, too, can join our movement! If you would like to know more about becoming a CASA volunteer, visit BecomeACASA.org. If you know someone who you think exemplifies the qualities of a good CASA advocate, you can let them know by nominating them to become a CASA at NominateACASA.org.
Interested in learning more about the Campbell family in the meantime? Check out the local news stories below!
- East Texas CASA welcomes sixth sister volunteer
- New East Texas CASA volunteers include sixth sister in family of child advocates