Former foster child receives award for working with today’s neglected kids
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) of Prince George’s County is one of 15 local CASA programs throughout the state of Maryland working to ensure every victim of child abuse and neglect the right to grow up in safe and permanent homes. And now it’s time to pay tribute and honor a former foster child and current CASA volunteer. After being a foster child herself, and having a CASA volunteer assigned to her case, Tomika Holmes was selected to receive an inaugural “Forty UNDER 40” award for her efforts as a CASA/Prince George’s County volunteer, paying it forward to the organization that helped her find a safe home when she was a child.
“I send a heartfelt thank-you to the voting committee for my selection of such an honored award, and I thank my CASA supervisor, Gabrielle Smith, and the whole CASA/Prince George’s County family for my nomination,” Holmes said. “I truly do not feel worthy of such an award, but I am thankful nonetheless.”
Presented by the Prince George’s County Social Innovation Fund, in partnership with the Community Foundation for Prince George’s County, Envision Prince George’s and the Human Services Coalition of Prince George’s County, this new award recognizes Prince George’s County residents under the age of 40 who have made exceptional contributions in their professional and community endeavors.
“Tomika has become a model CASA volunteer, working with a teenage girl who will age out of foster care to independence when she turns 21,” saidAnn Marie Foley Binsner, executive director of CASA/Prince George’s County, who nominated her for the award. “Tomika talks with the girl every day and has been there for every significant milestone.”
“Despite going significantly above and beyond her required service, Tomika constantly questions what else she could do to help this young lady prepare to step out on her own,” Binsner added. “
We are constantly wondering how to duplicate her because we need more volunteers just like her.”
Holmes joined CASA in 2008, to fulfill a desire to help children in need – and to satisfy an obligation she felt to compensate CASA for its role in helping her find a family.
“My motivation to become a CASA volunteer was based, in great part, by my faint, but powerful memories of sitting in a court building hallway and having a CASA worker sitting beside me, holding my hand, and (sharing) a warm smile of comfort and assurance,” Holmes said.
“I promised myself that one day, when the opportunity and time presented itself, I would seek to be that comforting smile of assurance for a child in need of a CASA.”
Her work with CASA has been rewarding, she says, because of the lifelong impact it has had, both on her and the young girl she is serving.
“What has been the most rewarding for me has been hearing my youth restate to me, months later something we’ve discussed,” Holmes said. “It proves that, she truly is listening and something I said, some guidance I have given has impacted her life in some form or fashion for the better.”
“I believe the bond that has been developed will last throughout her life and, when she reaches 21 years of age, our relationship will continue to flourish and she will become an extended part of my family.”
Former Special Assistant to the Chief of Police for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Tomika is currently a senior at George Washington University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. An active committee participant with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, she also mentors young adults in her church community.
Congratulations to Tomika Holmes for a well deserved “Forty UNDER 40” Award!
For More about CASA of Prince George’s County – See their website for additional information.