At CASA of Williamson County, we are fortunate to have a team of dedicated volunteers who go above and beyond to advocate for the well-being of children in the foster care system. In our monthly volunteer spotlight, we introduce you to one of our remarkable volunteers, Rigmor Schneider. We hope you’ll enjoy getting to know her as much as we did in the following interview!
For those who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Rigmor Schneider, and I was born and raised in a small town five hours north of Stockholm in Sweden. I came to New York after graduating from college to work as an au-pair in a Swedish-American family. Shortly after my arrival in the US, I met a tall, handsome German guy, Ingo, and I fell in love. We were married about a year after we met and started a family right away. I was blessed with three beautiful children, a son, and twin daughters. My son lost his life in a motorcycle accident when he was twenty-nine years old. He was a kind soul who always helped those in need. My son’s tragic death caused me to reevaluate life’s priorities. I believe this is what prompted me to change careers and I was drawn towards the non-profit sector where I would focus on helping others.
What is an accomplishment or achievement you are proud of?
On a personal level, I am most proud of having raised three children, together with my husband, who turned out to become incredible people, each one in their own special way. For a career accomplishment, I would have to say my journey at Volvo Finance NA, where I started as a temporary accounting clerk. Over a period of almost eighteen years and a handful of promotions, I was the first female to reach the executive management level, reporting directly to the company president. While working at Volvo Finance, I returned to school and I earned my Masters in Business Administration.
Who is one of your heroes/role models?
My maternal grandparents were my role models. I spent a lot of time with them when I was young. They were so much fun to be with. Grandma with her kind and quiet ways and grandpa who was mischievous and loved music. They didn’t have much, but they shared willingly with others. Their small home was welcoming, and there was always extra room at their dinner table. Most importantly for me, they taught me how to be respectful and to always do the right thing. Of course, my parents instilled the same values in me, but I would never ever think of disappointing my grandparents by misbehaving.
When you’re not volunteering, what are some of your other interests or hobbies?
I have many interests and hobbies. I stay physically fit by hiking, working out, playing pickleball, and dancing. I went on a cruise with friends earlier this year. We had a lot of fun and are already booked for the next adventure. When not cruising, I sew, tend to my garden, and occasionally refinish furniture. Baking, especially with my grandchildren, is something I really enjoy. I have four grandchildren who are all active in sports. Showing up for their games and swim meets is something I do regularly. Keeping up with my Swedish heritage is important to me. I am diligently passing on my culture and customs to my children and grandchildren. I belong to two Scandinavian organizations, serving on the board with the Austin chapter of SWEA International. I am also a founding member of the Oro Valley AZ, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 132, as my late husband served in the US Special Forces.
What drew you to volunteering as a CASA?
Working with and helping children and youth is something I care deeply about. Being a CASA volunteer gives me an opportunity to give back to my community. I worked several years for a non-profit organization that funded efforts to rescue, educate, rehabilitate, and reintegrate young sex-trafficking victims back into their societies, in Southeast Asia. After being involved with girls as young as three years old, who had been brutally raped, beaten and sold into slavery, I knew that I would have the mental strength to manage the requirements of being a CASA. When CASA was recruiting volunteers, I felt that this was a perfect opportunity for me to step up and help.
What’s one of the biggest challenges of being a CASA?
For me, the biggest challenge initially was to manage my time. I often feel that there is something else that can or should be done, so I worked a lot more than the required hours. Now that I have been a CASA for a year and a half, I am much more familiar with the process, and I no longer see this as a challenge. The rewards of making a difference in someone else’s life, especially children that are going through a tough time, far outweigh the challenges.
What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a CASA?
I would highly recommend it, as it is a rewarding experience if you are willing to put forth the effort. I would also like to encourage more men to engage in the program. There are a lot of young boys/teenagers who would benefit from having a male advocate/mentor.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would make parental training a requirement for every woman and a man before they would be physically able to produce a child. Think about it – the most important task we will ever have the opportunity to carry out doesn’t have any prerequisites for prior experience, on-the-job training, knowledge, or suitability for the task. There isn’t even a requirement for a reference check!!!!
Rigmor’s journey from a small town in Sweden to a successful career in the United States and her commitment to helping others, especially children, make her an inspiring and invaluable member of our CASA team. We are grateful for volunteers like Rigmor who make a significant difference in the lives of children in our community. If you’re considering becoming a CASA volunteer, take Rigmor’s advice and join us in this rewarding journey to make a lasting impact on young lives.