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Volunteer Spotlight: Tom and Tami Grzesikowski
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Tom and Tami Grzesikowski are active volunteers with CASA, and they have helped the organization grow and change over the years through their efforts. Let’s hear from Tami on why they choose CASA and why this work is important to them:

Q. Where are you two originally from?

A. Tom is from Jackson, Michigan and Tami grew up outside of Washington DC in Bethesda Maryland. We have both lived in Florida for almost 40 years and 37 of those married!

Q. What brought you to volunteer with CASA?

A. CASA’s CEO came to speak at a women’s group meeting several years ago and I was impressed with her passion, vision and of course the mission of CASA.  As a healthcare provider, I have always had to take a Domestic Violence update to renew my license so I did know a little about it.  Finally, a good friend in my women’s group, Gaelynn Thurman, encouraged me to volunteer and once I started I was hooked.  Tom helped at activities that I thought could use his support like sorting the Toys, painting etc. That’s how we got started.

Q. Tami, you did some Batterer Accountability Research for us during the pandemic. What was that like and what kind of information did you find? Did you find doing this project rewarding?

A. That was an amazing opportunity and I learned so much.  The biggest take away for me was how many repeat offenders kept getting away with committing DV because the judge either changed the charge to a misdemeanor or the victim/survivor dropped the charges and didn’t file.  I think this project was extremely important just for those reasons and when working with Zuly she indicated she could speak to the judges or bring up some of these issues. I thought that was a great idea and a perfect avenue to help stop some of this.  This project was very rewarding, unfortunately the timing wasn’t ideal for me with the second part as I had surgery and assumed I would have plenty of time on my hands to help with this but found doing this data gathering with one hand (because of my shoulder surgery) was nearly impossible. Zuly and the rest of the team were so understanding of my situation.

Q. Tom, you are a painter extraordinaire and helped with painting at our transitional housing in 2020. How did you feel when you completed that project and how did you get so good at painting?

A. Painting is one of my favorite activities to do. I think the most rewarding aspect of painting for me is the end product.  Whether I am changing the color of a room or providing much needed painting it always looks so clean and fresh when finished.  I have found that the prep work is a key element in getting a favorable result.  It is time consuming to get the walls and ceilings prepared but definitely enhances the finished product.

Q. What do you two like to do when you’re not volunteering with CASA?

A. Our number one activity we both love is Pickleball.  We play it several times a week. It is a sport played on a court similar to tennis but with a smaller paddle and plastic ball!

Another activity we really enjoy is going to our cabin in the mountains of northern Georgia.  We like hiking there and all of the outside activities it offers.  When in Florida, we also enjoy being outside.  Tami works part-time teaching online for St. Petersburg College and University of Michigan while Tom works with friends and family doing landscaping, home improvement projects and of course painting.

Q. What kind of volunteer work do you hope to do with CASA going forward as we come out of the pandemic?

A. Tom looks forward to doing any additional projects with CASA that he can help with in the transitional housing area, the new Family Justice Center, or at the shelter. This might include painting, building something or landscaping.  We also enjoyed helping with the Toy Drive in the past. Tami is looking forward to assisting with injunctions at the CourtHouse or supporting survivors in any capacity that she can.

Q: Would you recommend volunteering with CASA?

A: Volunteering at CASA is such a beneficial and worthwhile experience because all of the staff and survivors appreciate the help and support.  I look forward to fully retiring so I have more time to dedicate to my volunteer  work with CASA. We can never do enough to help these people move forward in taking control of their lives again and starting fresh.

Thank you, Tom and Tami, for all you have done for CASA over the years. Your support is vital to the continuation of our mission.

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