“If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Pat Mackin, who was recently recently recognized as one of the “50 Faces of Volunteers” by Volunteer Iowa, says that keeping one’s mind engaged is essential. Here, he demonstrates a toy train yard that he programmed to carry out various tasks. EJ Photo/Travis Charlson

For local resident Pat Mackin, retirement isn’t about quitting work and resting on your laurels.

“When a person reaches retirement age, they may have as much experience and knowledge with the world as they’ll ever have,” Mackin said. “And if they’re capable, they kind of have an obligation to return their experience to the community, to help out in some way.”

Mackin said a book he once read argued that point, and it stuck with him.

“I really believe in that.” Mackin said. “And I still have the ability to contribute, so I want to.”

Recently, Mackin was recognized for his community service, when Volunteer Iowa pegged him as one of their “50 Faces of Volunteers”, which recognizes individuals for their contributions throughout the state of Iowa.

“I’m a novice, but I’m going to be the best novice I can be.” Mackin plays organ at his church and piano in the Grafton Community Choir. He practices for at least an hour or two every day. EJ Photo/Travis Charlson

Mackin is a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for the Iowa Child Advocacy Board.

The purpose of the CASA program is to serve as advocates of juveniles who find themselves in the court system, Mackin said. Typically, these are kids whose parents have been identified as causing some sort of abuse or neglect towards their children.

This could be anything from physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, lack of medical care, inadequate nutrition to unsafe or unsanitary homes.

The judge in these cases will mandate some type of correction, counseling or treatment for the parent or parents, and the kids are typically placed with relatives or in foster homes until the parents complete their requirements.

During this time, the judge can also then appoint a CASA. The CASA’s job is to monitor all parties involved — the kids, the parents, Department of Human Services, therapists, medical doctors, schools — to make sure that progress is being made and to identify any additional measures that might be needed.

“Often times, these children can be anywhere from newborn babies to young adults, 18 years of age.” Mackin said. “ [We] relate to the child, and stand up for them in court because they can’t stand up for themselves — often they’re too young, or they just don’t have the capacity to do it.”

Mackin has been with the program for over five years now, and was the only one in Mitchell County when he started. Now, there are three, and Mackin helps to coach the new recruits.

Officially, Mackin is a Mitchell County CASA, but since the state has cut back funding for the program over the years, he’s often gets involved in other counties as well.

Mackin learned about the program in San Antonio, then ran into a classmate in Osage during a class reunion who was also involved in the program.

Mackin had spent 20 years in the Navy, and was moving every couple of years.

“I didn’t feel I took enough time to contribute to the communities that I lived in over the years,” Mackin said.

Now retired and living in Osagewith his wife Sharon, he is finding many ways to give back.

In addition to the CASA program, he is involved with the Bridges Mentoring Program, and is the Chair of the Fine Arts Council of Mitchell County.

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