Mark, a volunteer with San Francisco CASA, shared this story about Brandon, who entered the system just before his 18th birthday.
When Mark was first assigned to work with Brandon, the young man was homeless and heavily using substances to address untreated mental health issues. Brandon didn’t want to accept the housing options that were available to him, and he often didn’t show up for his scheduled meetings with his social worker. It took Mark three-and-a-half months of weekly outreach to Brandon before they met in person for the first time.
But CASA Mark was persistent. He understood the real consequences of untreated mental health issues, and was compassionate toward Brandon during each of their appointments. He brought Brandon homemade meals. He got Brandon access to corrective lenses and supported Brandon in completing his mental health assessments. These small victories mostly occurred while Brandon was homeless.
Over time, CASA Mark learned more about Brandon’s family, and shared this information to help investigate possible supportive kin connections. He also helped recover both the communication and rapport among the others on Brandon’s professional support team.
Mark partnered with the Independent Living Skills Program (ILSP) to support Brandon in applying for housing, which he eventually secured. With the help of ILSP, Mark helped Brandon apply for supportive employment opportunities.
Brandon had multiple brushes with potential loss of housing due to his challenging behaviors, but Mark continued to encourage Brandon to fully consider the ramifications of his decisions. Mark always showed up, engaged in sometimes difficult conversations with Brandon, and offered support in every way he could.
Brandon left foster care after his 21st birthday, but his relationship with CASA Mark continues. The two still meet regularly, and Brandon has maintained employment and housing, with the help and support of his advocate, Mark.