Aghogho Pedro, CASA for Douglas County Volunteer
Please tell us your "why":
I grew up watching my parents give their time and resources to help others less privileged than we were. There were so many experiences of them giving to the needy. I remember my mom saying we had no money for a video game console but watched her buy school supplies for children in an orphanage. There is no formal foster parent system in Nigeria where I grew up but I can’t remember any time in my life when we didn’t have a foster child(ren) in our home.
These experiences taught me the importance of caring and giving to those who need it the most. I believe that I am created to bring joy and happiness to the life of those I encounter. Whenever I picture my 10, 20, 30…. year plan, there is no scenario where I am not involved in actively trying to make the lives of others better; it is what makes me happy; it is part of who I am.
How did you get involved with CASA?
I just moved to Omaha and I was looking for a way to make an impact with the most vulnerable in our community. CASA differed from other organization because it gives you access to advocate for the necessary resources to help a child outside the basics of food, clothing and shelter.
What has surprised you most about being a CASA?
How important our role is to the children we advocate for. The children quickly understand we are on their side and develop a unique bond with us. They trust us with their challenges and believe that we have their best interest.
What do you find most challenging about the child welfare system or CASA?
The child welfare system does good work for thousands of displaced children, removing them from harm and placing them in safe place. Providing them with all the resources they need to prevail. The most challenging aspect of this process is time. Implementation and follow-through of programs/recommendations seem to take a long time.
How do you balance giving time to your CASA case with your job/family/life obligations?
This is an area I pay attention to, I can only be the best husband, father, employee and advocate if I balance my time well. I spend about 1/3 of my year on road for work and when I get home I try to make time for my family. I have a 4 yrs. old son and a wife who is busier than I; working as a physician. Amidst everything I have going on personally and professional, my commitment to help others and bring joy and hope to the vulnerable in my community ensures that I make time. I compartmentalize the different areas of my life and assign my available time to each area. I believe if something is important, we make time for it. For me, fulfilling my duties to the children is part of my own joy and happiness.
Why are you supporting CASA as opposed to other groups working on child welfare?
There are many organizations in Omaha doing great work for our children, providing food, clothes, toys, books, tutoring, mentoring and many more. CASA organization is unique because it gives you a platform normally reserved for government agencies, legal agencies and medical professionals. It gives you access to the child’s complete history which makes you better prepared to advocate for the child. It also allows you to recommend services and resources through the justice system that you believe will help the child succeed.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I am working towards starting a non-profit organization to help provide support, training and education funding for children who have no access through no fault of their own. This will allow me pursue my calling of bringing joy and happiness to those in need.
If you weren't serving as a CASA Volunteer, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?
I will probably be volunteering with another organization as it is my passion to serve others.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating or volunteering?
If you have the desire to make others (especially children) happy or if it breaks your heart to hear about children in unsafe environment or if there is a void you are looking to fill; then CASA is the organization for you. If you are too busy or your schedule doesn’t allow you to volunteer, open your wallet to help CASA continue the fight for our children. If you can find time in your schedule or you are looking to make an impact in our community, then stop by the office and let us tell you how you can.
Aghogho Pedro was born in Nigeria, relocated to the United States in 2003. He graduated top of his class with a BSc/MSc in Chemical Engineering and has worked in the Pharmaceutical and Food industries for the last 10 years. He currently works in the Process R&D department for ConAgra Brands. He is married and has a 4 year old son. Pedro has been a CASA volunteer since the Fall of 2015.