by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by Alicia Jeanne Photography

Who Saved Who?

volunteer_gieda1After 35 years at a Fortune 50 company, Carlsbad resident Joe Gieda wanted to volunteer, not only to keep himself active, but also to begin a second career which would give him a greater sense of community and accomplishment. An intriguing radio ad for Voices for Children seemed to fit the bill, so he attended a Real Word speaker’s panel, where current and former foster children spoke of their experiences. The panel confirmed his instinct, and he’s now a Voices for Children volunteer, serving as a court-appointed special advocate (CASA). A CASA volunteer wears many hats: advocate, mentor, role model, working from multiple standpoints to ensure the foster children in their care have their needs met. “I am there for the good times and help them through the bad times,” Joe explained.

Name: Joe Gieda
Community: Carlsbad
Profession: Retired
Family: Wife, three grown children, and three grandchildren
Hobbies: Volunteering, golf
Favorite Places in Carlsbad: On a good golf day… The Crossings! “I’ve recently taken up golf, but based on the number of lost balls, I’m not sure it’s working!”


volunteer_gieda3He has certain responsibilities and privileges in the lives of the children he serves, such as holding education rights or having access to talk to doctors, therapists, teachers, social workers, and lawyers regarding each child’s well-being. He works with the court as a neutral partner to ensure the child is taken care of by the ‘system,’ and works with the caregiver to ensure the child’s needs are met. Joe shared, “I am a consistent adult that they can talk to, feel safe with, confide in, and lean on.” He has two cases right now, one of whom is doing well with some special help and Joe believes on a positive path. One is more of a challenge, but has elected to stay in the foster care system even though he’s turning 18, to get the help he needs.

Joe and his wife have three grown children and three grandchildren, and he also volunteers at Carlsbad Kiwanis and as a Key Club advisor. Voices for Children is always looking for volunteers, especially males (currently only 5% of CASAs are males). When asked about his biggest accomplishment as a CASA volunteer, Joe can relate to a popular bumper sticker which asks ‘Who saved who?’ “I know I am making a positive impact for my case children,” he said. “I am always there for them, and they know they can count on me when many of the other adults in their life may have let them down. But they have also helped me be a better person, to not take life for granted.”