For the past eighteen years, Fairfax CASA has had the pleasure of working with Virginia Hole. Virginia shows extreme dedication, patience, and heart in her role as a CASA volunteer. She has advocated for thirteen family groups and nineteen children of all different ages from infancy through young adulthood. In 2015, Virginia was recognized as the May Cook Heart of Gold recipient for going above and beyond for the vulnerable children on her case load. Her supervisor Tara Shimp shares, “Virginia Hole is the Gold Standard of CASA Volunteers! We are celebrating her 18th year with the Fairfax CASA program. Virginia is the Energizer Bunny! I have had the pleasure to supervise Virgina for the last four plus years and she is a delight in every way. She is a woman of her word and takes her CASA work very seriously. COVID could not stop her from visiting her children in person. Even though we were permitting video visits, Virginia wouldn’t have it! She would bundle up, go to their placement, and meet them in the driveway with a fun game or two. She has formed a bond with every child AND family that she works with. because she is so caring and compassionate. Don’t let her southern charm fool you. She is a force in all the best ways!” Executive Director Darcy Hubbard greatly appreciates Virginia and her calming presence, as she explains, “When I hear Virginia’s voice in the office, I can’t help but smile. Getting a hug from her and chatting with her when she comes in truly makes my day. She is such a wonderful human being, and truly a ray of light in a sometimes dark world. She does so much for others—well beyond her CASA work. The world is a better place because she is in it.” Read on to learn more about Virginia and her time as a CASA volunteer.
Are you originally from NoVA?
No! I was born and raised in Mississippi on a farm, I know what hard work is because of it. I ended up in Northern Virginia fifty years ago, my first husband retired here and when he left the marriage, I felt the school system my children were in was a great one, so I stayed in Fairfax County, and I don’t regret it! I have five children, eleven grandchildren, and one great granddaughter.
How did you decide to become a CASA volunteer?
Well, I had never heard of CASA until a dear friend of mine from church, Lynda Williams, became the Executive Director of CASA. We were good friends and she told me all about her job, and she said “Virginia, you’d be so good at this!” So, I took the train in, and I’ve been a CASA ever since! That’s how I became a CASA, and I have a great story about my first case!
I would love to hear it!
The child was thirteen years old, and the first time I went to see her at her foster home she said, “I’m not going to talk to you, I don’t need to.” But I stayed about fifteen minutes and talked to myself. I decided to try taking her for lunch during the school day, I picked up two kid’s meals from McDonalds and took her to sit outside and have lunch. Again, she said, “I’m not talking to you.” And she refused to eat the lunch I brought her. This happened two weeks in a row. On the third week, I knew I had to reach this child somehow. I turned the radio on in the car and told her “I just love country music!” to which she replied, “I don’t like country music.” So, I asked, “What kind of music do you like?” and we talked and talked about music. Since she loved music so much, I suggested she join the orchestra at school, and she had no idea that was a possibility for her. When I dropped her back off at school, she told me she’d like to try the cello, so I spoke with someone at the school and set off to get her a cello. I worked with the social worker and the county helped me get her a cello. When I brought it to her foster home, she was one happy child.
After she turned eighteen and her case closed, she called me and told me she had enrolled in college and joined the navy! I still hear from her to this day. This young person who initially refused to talk to me is now getting her PhD and has turned into one heck of a success.
Since then, I’ve had many other cases!
What is your most memorable CASA experience?
I remember a case I was on, with seven children. The father of one of the children wanted custody of his child, however the foster parents who cared for the child from infancy wanted to adopt the child. My supervisor Tara and I ended up being at court from 8:30am until 11:30pm for this hearing! The foster parents were granted custody in the end and brought the child to see me before they moved. I made some homemade ice cream and the foster parents have told me the child still talks about that ice cream!
Why do you continue as a CASA, after so many cases?
Well, I guess it’s mostly personal for me. My birth mother died when I was two years old, and my father re-married. My stepmother made Cinderella’s stepmother look like a saint! I grew up thinking nobody would love me because I was told nobody would ever love me. I never thought about it until you asked me, but that has a lot to do with it. It’s very important to me that the children and families I work with know they’re loved, and they can trust me. Those are two things I think children really need.
I also have a need to stay busy, I miss my husband since he passed.
What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a CASA?
It’s very, very important that you listen. You learn more by listening than you do by talking. You also have to really like what you’re doing and be committed to it! This is a big commitment because you are involved with another human being, and you will need to meet people where they are.
Is the work you do to help these families worth the outcome?
I really don’t think about it as work! I think about how, by the grace of God, it could be one of my children. I have a very strong faith and I have been taught to love thy neighbor as thyself; I see these children as my neighbor.
I always like to do things that are worthwhile, I never want to waste my time. That’s part of why I volunteer with CASA, and I’ve done things like hospice as well.
Do you feel you’ve made an impact with your CASA work?
Well at the end of the case, once the court makes the final decision, I tell the families that I won’t be able to contact them unless they contact me first. Most of them have done that, they contact me, and I stay in their lives, so yes! The time we spend with children always makes an impact, especially when we really care about them.
Though they can be time consuming, the court reports are also impactful for the judge and the case. At a recent hearing, the judge asked, “Is the CASA here?” and then she proceeded to thank me for the report.
Aside from CASA, what do you like to do in your free time?
I read and I do sudoku! I’ve been reading a lot about the Second World War; I love historical fiction. I just finished a great book called A Bend In The River which is set during the Vietnam War. I love working in my yard and crocheting. I can sit and read a book, crochet, and watch tv all at the same time! When you have five children and four of them are preschoolers, you learn to multi-task.