This month’s spotlight shines on Tony Rutigliano, who was sworn in as a volunteer advocate in 2015 and served on a case until its completion in December 2017.
“Volunteering expands you, enriches you, and helps you learn more about humanity and the world; being able to share your blessings and give another person the opportunity to share themselves with you makes the world a better place,” Tony said.
His case, open for 2.5 years, concerned a troubled adolescent boy. Tony was a consistent, committed presence in the child’s life during the ups and downs of 7 different placements.
After multiple problematic placements in therapeutic resource homes, Tony advocated that placement in a group home was in the child’s best interest. The case worker from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) agreed, and the group home setting provided necessary structure and supervision.
“The case was, at times, emotionally and tactically daunting,” Tony said. “I had to reach down deep to find the means and strength to understand and get through to the child, to work the system, and to have hope.”
Tony recalled the first day he met his CASA child; it was Father’s Day, and the child was in a juvenile crisis center for having threatened suicidal ideation.
“It was an eye-opener…we played cards, talked, and I could tell he was skeptical I would ever come back,” Tony said. “Each time I did, he opened up more, became more comfortable, and we had more smiles. There is something about constancy and sticking with things--that’s more than half the battle.”
Eventually, DCP&P found a biological relative interested in adopting the child.
Tony noted that in a meeting with the child following this news, he happily stated that the boy’s luck was changing. The child answered, “What do you mean? I’ve always been lucky.”
“That moment taught me the meaning of the word ‘resilience,’” Tony said.
“Tony rode the roller coaster of a young man’s life and he held on with both hands!” said Jack Fraebel, CASA Case Supervisor. “He kept up his visits and never gave up hope. The eventual adoption was a team effort, and Tony was central to that team.”
Thank you, Tony, for your commitment, dedication, and overall constancy in the life of a young boy during an incredibly vulnerable time. You have truly helped to provide him with better tomorrows.