Murdock: Care for the caregivers |

Murdock: Care for the caregivers

Gina Murdock
Lead with Love
Gina Murdock

I received a request recently to help create a program to help support advocates working with CASA of the 9th.

CASA is a non-profit organization based in Glenwood Springs that serves the 9th Judicial District. The role of a court-appointed special advocate, or CASA, is to support children who are in the judicial system because of neglect and abuse. This is a volunteer job, and it is intense. 

I went through the roughly 30-hour training to become a CASA in spring 2020, when COVID had us all holed up in our homes. The training was moved from in-person to on-line, and I was grateful to be able to dedicate my time and energy to helping kids in our district.

I’ve felt a calling to work with vulnerable children for more than a decade, as my own fertility journey brought acute awareness to me of the feeling of yearning. I had such an intense emotional and physical desire to be a mother and to hold a child, and when I couldn’t have it, I suffered greatly.

Knowing this feeling made me think of its opposite, an even stronger yearning I imagine: The yearning to have a mother and to be held. Far too many children do not know this feeling. They are walking alone through an incredibly scary and inadequate system that is meant to protect them but ends up hurting them, as well, just as their ill-equipped parents did.

With all of the talk from politicians about how they are working for American families, it is sad to me that the essential role of a CASA is done by volunteers, and that the system in place to care for children is well-intended but woefully inadequate. We have so many resources in our country, but thousands of children go to sleep hungry each night and without a safe place to sleep. I know we can do better than this. 

The CASA volunteers are truly amazing people. From my cohort, I saw a lot of hardworking moms juggling work and kids who, like me, couldn’t stand to know that other kids living in the same area were suffering so profoundly from neglect and abuse. These are the helpers, people that see a problem and jump in to help.

A CASA is a superhero, and — just like most people I spoke to working to support the mental, physical, and emotional health of people in need — they need support, too. 

What I noticed when I started calling around to friends and colleagues who work in mental, physical, and emotional support roles — teachers, nurses, therapists, counselors, first responders, etc. — is that these types of jobs require a huge amount of care, and it is taxing.

I think it is paramount that we as a community figure out how to care for the caregivers. I don’t know what this looks like yet. I’m sure there are a lot of great programs in place that I don’t know about, and I know there are a ton of wonderful people within “the system” who are doing incredible work. I want to learn more and be part of the caring and support. 

I was so impressed by every person I talked to at our local support organizations when I called about CASA because they were all so willing to help. From Aspen Hope Center, Pathfinders, Focused Kids, Aspen Strong, and other parents and counselors, the reaction was “How can I help? What do you need?” We are so lucky to live in a place where people care and where organizations beyond government agencies exist to care for people in need.

Asking for help is a sign of strength and is an essential part of a healthy society, community, and family. I need some help here and would love to hear from you what we can do to care for the caregivers. We have some amazing organizations here who support those in need, but who is supporting and caring for the supporters and caregivers?

Gina Murdock is the founder of Lead with Love, an Aspen-based non-profit org dedicated to shifting culture from fear to love by nurturing heart-centered leaders and a board member of CASA of the Ninth. Lead with Love hosts trainings, workshops and retreats around the world. For more info, visit and