When they’re not working hard at their day jobs, Idaho Power Customer Service Operations Support Leader Kim Dixon (photo: left) and Lead Counsel Lisa Nordstrom (photo: right) volunteer with Family Advocates — an organization that has worked for over 40 years to strengthen families and keep kids safe in the Treasure Valley. Although both women donate their time to the same family-centric organization, they serve in very different (and equally important) roles to advocate for the best interest of abandoned, neglected and abused children in our community.
Kim is a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. CASAs are appointed by the family court judge and advocate for the best interest of neglected children. Kim spends more than 10 hours-per-month interviewing children and family members, consulting with the children’s service providers, reviewing sensitive records and attending court hearings on behalf of children. It is Kim’s job to make recommendations to the judge about the children’s custody and placement.
Kim’s husband works with women nearing the end of their prison sentences. He inspired her to look for ways to help struggling mothers and children who need extra support. Kim likes that Family Advocates offers so many ways to get involved and allows volunteers to work at their own pace. Kim has been a CASA volunteer for 18 months and has already worked with 10 children.
Lisa is one of Family Advocates’ 100 court-appointed attorneys who represents more than 180 CASA volunteers like Kim. She works “pro-bono,” which denotes a lawyer performing work for free. The actual Latin translation is “for the public good,” which is an even better fit in Lisa’s case.
After starting her career as a Canyon County prosecutor where she was responsible for child protection cases, she knew volunteering with Family Advocates CASA Program would be a good way to continue putting her expertise to work for Idaho’s children.
Child welfare has been a recurring theme in her life; Lisa testified as a witness in a large California child abuse case when she was only 10 years old.
“It was very impactful — even though I wasn’t one of the younger children directly impacted,” Lisa said. “So this topic has always resonated with me.” Lisa has represented CASAs for more than 50 children during her 13 years as a Family Advocates volunteer.
“People talk about frustration with government and how they want to fix things. This is something I can do to fix some things. This is something we can do as a community, and we can make a huge impact. The work is heartbreaking and hard. It takes so much effort, but it’s so gratifying to give these kids a chance for a better life,” Lisa said.
Kim loves interacting with “my kiddos,” as she calls them.
“I do better with kids than adults,” Kim explained with a laugh. She loves getting to know them and having them get to know her.
Kim knows her hands-on role is making a difference, not only for the children, but also for the mothers who look to her as a role model.
While they are supporting vulnerable families, these Idaho Power volunteers are also strengthening the communities where they live and work.