WOODLAND PARK • A marriage strengthened by helping abused children find safety and joy, for Sherry and John Hoffman, Court Appointed Special Advocate enhances the marital bond.
The two find satisfaction in advocating for abused and/or neglected children whose parents or guardians have entered the “system” of the Teller County Department of Human Services.
“I love working with children; they need somebody to believe in them,” Sherry Hoffman said. “The reason they act out is because they don’t believe in themselves. They can still be loved and cared for, even when you don’t feel that way.”
The couple traveled different paths to arrive at volunteering for CASA of the Pikes Peak Regoin in Woodland Park.
Sherry Hoffman grew up in a home with siblings and foster children. On the side, her mother operated a daycare in the home. “I swore I’d never work with children again,” she said. “That lasted about a year.”
As a young adult, Hoffman took care of children in a daycare facility and paid part of her college tuition as an employee in a treatment center for juveniles with aggressive behavior.
After earning a degree in psychology, Hoffman interned at Cleo Wallace Center at the Myron Stratton Home in Colorado Springs, and later worked with juvenile sex offenders at Cedar Springs Hospital in Colorado Springs and troubled teenagers at the Griffith Centers for Children. “I loved my job,” she said.
Volunteering for CASA was a natural evolution for her.
For CASA volunteers in Teller County, the organization’s program manager, Kari Dimmick, is available for support in the office in Woodland Park.
“There are times when it’s hard because you don’t want to see kids hurt,” she said. “I think the hardest thing is seeing things objectively.”
Some cases involve sexual abuse of a child who has been removed the home. “If you advocate for the child to go back home, is that going to be as safe place for them? But you always have hope,” Dimmick said. “Their mom or dad are always going to their favorite people, no matter how much they’ve hurt them. It’s just a strong relationship, no matter what.”
For Sherry Hoffman, not being able to talk about her cases with someone other than Dimmick led her to convince her husband to sign on with CASA.
“She pushes me in a good way, outside of my comfort zone,” John Hoffman said. “New things for me sometimes are really hard, even though I have that desire to help kids.”
As a college student he worked in a youth detention facility to help pay for his college tuition.
Hoffman continued the work in group homes for adolescents, “I got experience with kids, helping them deal with issues they go through,” said Hoffman, who works as a contractor for the Department of Defense. “It wasn’t my major in college, but it was something I felt I had to do.”
His wife’s urging got to him. “I think that’s a soft spot,” Hoffman said. “I hate to see kids hurting because what have they done to deserve any of that? It’s that innocence of a kid that makes it even harder.”
Today, he is working on his first case with siblings. “I can see them after work, or on weekends, whatever is best for them,” he said.
With four children and full-time jobs, the Hoffmans try to coordinate visits to different families, if possible. “Our schedules are pretty much go-go-go,” Sherry Hoffman said.
The nonprofit organization relies on grants and donations to fund its work. Next month, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region hosts the annual Light of Hope Teller breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Oct. 5 at the Ute Pass Cultural Center in Woodland Park. All the proceeds stay in Teller County.
For information about hosting a table or volunteering, call 719-447-9898 or visit casappr.org/volunteer/.