CASA Volunteer Touts Education

Energy executive mentors Spanish-speakers

Juan Nevarez immigrated to Amarillo from Juarez, Mexico, when he was 15 to stay with his godmother.

She encouraged education, and Nevarez went on to earn a petroleum engineering degree from Texas Tech University and a master’s in business administration from California State University. 

Today, the Preston Hollow resident and 20+-year oil-and-gas-industry veteran serves as a senior executive at Scout Energy Partners and helps mentor children as a volunteer with Dallas CASA.

“Three and a half years ago, I decided to get involved in CASA,” Nevarez said. “They told me they were looking for volunteers that spoke Spanish, that were bilingual … that could be role models, and I just felt that I wanted to help.”

Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) trains and supervises community volunteers who advocate for children removed from unsafe homes.

Per Dallas CASA, while Latinos represent 34% of Dallas County children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect, only about 9% of Dallas CASA volunteers are Latino.

As a CASA volunteer, Nevarez works with three young brothers in foster care who are also native Spanish speakers.

​​“I want these boys to know they can achieve anything,” he said. “I’m an example of that. I know a big part of why I am where I am today is because my godmother believed in education. If I can do the same thing for these boys, that would be amazing.”

Nevarez visits the children at least once per month to take them to parks or restaurants and work with them on issues related to their schooling.

“Mostly, the focus is on education, having them set goals for their school,” Nevarez said. “Education has basically opened a lot of doors for me.”

Volunteerism also impacts the volunteers who often learn from the children they mentor.

“It’s made me appreciate the blessings that God has given me, and it’s also helped me to have more empathy for others,” Nevarez said.

He encourages others to volunteer if they can, too.

“(Dallas CASA does) a great job of having a good balance of holding you accountable so that you do the things that need to be done for the child, but also provide you resources,” Nevarez said. “You see the level of care – the people that work there, you know that they’re doing this because they have a passion for helping others, and I just really appreciate that.”

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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