Denton County Living Well Magazine March/April 2016 - Page 43

“We tend to think of Angel Flight when we think medical air lifting,” the former registered nurse admits. She loves to see two groups coming together with their own speciality. But as Gray learned first hand, medical work is not all Angel Flight does. “They’ve got time. They love flying, and it gives them a way to give back just like we are,” she says. She’s used the free service a few times to meet with her CASA child. The Impact While veterans like Gray may be free to go at it alone with the majority of their cases, newcomers don’t have to worry. CASA provides an extensive training process along with a supervisor. “You meet them at the airport or sometimes they will fly to meet you,” she explains. “It’s just the pilot and me. Where I go it’s a 2 to 2 ½ hour flight. Then I usually spend about two hours there. And the pilot just waits for me or maybe goes and has lunch or waits in the hanger.” While she’s there, she gets to take the child out of school, sees how they have grown, visits with people in their life and tours their facility. “It’s an overall progress report,” Gray says. “They are just like any other child. They’ll ask ‘What did you bring me? Did you bring me a toy?’” When they finish, it’s a two-hour trip back. “All in a day’s trip. Mission accomplished,” she says. Gray is grateful for the volunteer gift Angel Flight pilots offer CASAs and acknowledges it is a sacrifice. “When you fill a plane it’s not like filling your car,” she says. Then, Gray says, at the end of a case, CASAs write a court report, explaining their informed conclusions. “I’ve found the courts do rely on a lot of my investigative work as I’m sure they do with a lot of CASAs,” Gray notes. In fact, one of Gray’s favorite parts of involvement with CASA has been learning how the court system works from the inside. On the annual Adoption Day, she has enjoyed seeing the courtrooms lined with teddy bears and other celebratory elements like balloons, clowns and food. But not every day is as glamorous as adoption day, and Gray admits, in the beginning, she wondered if what she was doing really mattered. “There are all these people and all these cases,” she recalls. “But the more I did it, the more I really realized, you really do matter. All these advocates come together, and together it really makes a difference.” CASA of Dallas County serves more than 2,250 children each year. To learn more about volunteering or donate to CASA, visit DENTON COUNTY Living Well Magazine | MARCH/APRIL 2016 41