Last month was CASA Nancy Dolliver’s sixteen year anniversary as a volunteer with Fairfax CASA. In those sixteen years, Nancy has advocated for twelve children from eight different family groups. She stayed on one of her cases for over five years, embodying the consistent nature of our volunteer program.
When asked about Nancy’s time as a CASA volunteer, her supervisor Emily Rea shared “Nancy is a dream. She is tenacious with collecting case information and documentation but also kind and empathetic. I enjoy working with her as a person too because she is funny and easy-going.” We can’t thank Nancy enough for her dedication to our organization and the children of Fairfax County.
Are you originally from NoVA?
I was born in Youngstown, Ohio and raised in Huntington, NY, so I’m a New Yorker! I followed a friend to the DC area when I was looking for a job after college.
What is your professional background?
I have had two careers, both of which I loved. First I was a television production manager. Initially I worked on productions at WETA, our local PBS station working on both live and taped shows like Washington Week and Review, the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, Around Town, A Capitol 4th and many others. Then I moved on to Discovery Communications where I worked with production companies providing content to DIscovery, Animal Planet, The Travel Channel and TLC. In 1995, while still doing TV work, I started working part-time as a performer with The Capitol Steps, political satire troupe. In 2003 I stepped away from Discovery and started performing full time with The Capitol Steps, travelling the country and making people laugh. It was a blast that came to end when the pandemic shut down theater across the country.
How did you initially become involved with CASA?
Years ago I performed at an event that helped to benefit CASA. I liked what I heard and decided I would like to be a CASA when I was not working two jobs and raising a family. So a few years after I left my TV work, I applied to be a CASA and was sworn in in June, 2007. Since then, they have not been able to get rid of me!
What is your most memorable experience as a CASA volunteer?
I don’t have one big memory, but lots of smaller ones. I have worked exclusively with teenagers and each one was different, each one a challenge, and I learned something from each of them. I hear from some of them, now adults, from time to time. It was really heartwarming to hear from one of my former kids out of the blue, with a quote telling me that my help to her was a gift, and another time getting a message on Mother’s Day.
You’ve worked on eight different cases. What brings you back as a volunteer, case after case?
A little bit of guilt! We don’t choose the circumstances we’re born into and I was lucky in mine. So I am glad to be a light in the dark for some kids who were not so lucky.
What is the most challenging part of the CASA role?
It is hard to know that you can’t fix everything. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you would wish. But I try to remind myself that just being there as a constant, caring, honest person no matter how they act or where they are placed is something that they may never have experienced.
Do you find your CASA work to be rewarding?
Yes. In addition to being there for kids who needed someone, serving others is good for your physical and mental health, so it was also good for me. And working with these challenging young people keeps me young!
Outside of volunteering, what do you like to do in your free time?
I still perform comedy with my new group, The Capitol Fools. I also enjoy bike riding, going to the theater, and hanging with friends and family.
For those searching for volunteer opportunities out there, why should they choose to become a CASA?
There is always more to learn and always someone who needs you.