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2024 April Volunteer of the Month - Diane Houdek

Updated: May 6


Sometimes, children just need someone to be there for them; someone to be their advocate when no one else can or will. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) provides children with a voice in the courts and advocates for children to have a safe, permanent home so they don't have to repeat that portion of their lives.

Diane Houdek has been a CASA Advocate since July 2018. She took her first case within weeks of becoming a CASA Advocate. Since that time, she has worked with five separate cases, advocating for a total of nine children, with ages ranging from newborn to teenager. In 2023, Diane volunteered 66 hours for just one case. The children she serves are from the Yankton community.


Diane meets with the children monthly to ensure their needs are being met. She also meets with the foster parents and contacts the schools to get a better understanding of the child's needs. She wants to ensure these children have a safe, permanent home and to assess this, she meets with the parents monthly in their home to gather information about their ability to parent and their progress on making changes. In addition, she attends monthly visits between parents and children. After gathering the needed information, she writes a court report that is submitted to the Judge.


Because of her caring and commitment to advocating for children and making them feel comfortable and special, United Way & Volunteer Services of Greater Yankton was honored to present Diane Houdek with the April 2024 Volunteer of the Month Award.


We asked Diane to share more about her volunteerism, in her own words:

I have lived here in the Greater Yankton area since the fall of 2017.

 

I began volunteering at CASA in 2018; getting my first case within weeks of being trained and sworn in.

 

I volunteer on several committees at my church - Trinity Lutheran Church. I have also volunteered at the church for a variety of events. Additionally, I deliver Meals on Wheels throughout the year. I also have volunteered at Stewart Elementary, assisting students with their reading and writing. During the World Archery Championships held in Yankton September 2021, my volunteer duties included ferrying competitors and/or coaches to and from the Sioux Falls and Omaha airports, as well as delivering materials throughout town. I serve on the Avera Sacred Heart Hospital Philanthropy Council, on which I be Council Chair in the next term. I have served on the Mt. Marty University Tailgate Committee since its beginning, where we expanded the mission to include all sports and activities on campus.

 

Approximate hours per year that I volunteer is around 200 hours.

 

Volunteer work is enjoyable because meeting people and seeing all Yankton has to offer have been the best experiences. Getting involved in this great community is so easy.

 

My best volunteer experience was recently running into the child from a completed CASA case I had and getting hugs from them makes the work I do worth it.

 

The advice I would give to those thinking about getting out there and volunteering in their communities is volunteering is a great way to be involved and get to know your community.  Delivering Meals on Wheels certainly gave me a lesson in the geography and street layout of Yankton early on after moving here. It is satisfying to know the work volunteers do makes a difference.

 

Thank you, Diane, for all you do! To learn more about local volunteer opportunities or to nominate someone for United Way’s Volunteer of the Month Award, please visit www.yanktonunitedway.org/volunteer, email info@yanktonunitedway.org, or call United Way of Greater Yankton at (605) 665-6766.

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