Hearts of Yolo: Genevieve Virden

Friday, Apr 6, 2018

Genevieve Virden majored in social work because she wanted to devote her career to making a difference for people in need. “I met with a professor who taught about the child welfare system and was sold. I took a bunch of child welfare policy classes. I loved the program and had lots of opportunities to work with at-risk students. Beyond that, I tutored in high school and worked in summer camps. I’ve always been around kids and love that kind of work.”

Genevieve is Yolo County CASA’s new Recruitment and Retention Coordinator. “Before working for Yolo County CASA , I was a substitute teacher. I was heartbroken on many occasions when I knew one child was struggling but I had to focus on the entire group. At Yolo County CASA, we can make a huge difference for one child at a time, and that’s an important mission.”

New to the area, Genevieve is busy meeting local constituents and working on raising the awareness of Yolo County CASA in hopes of greatly expanding its volunteer base. “I think there’s a misconception that to be a CASA volunteer you have to have specialized knowledge of the child welfare system or the educational system but we cover everything people need to know in our extensive trainings. Really, it’s about someone’s heart and passion. Do you have the desire to make a profound difference for a child? If you have that calling, it’s likely you are qualified for the training.” Genevieve continues, “None our advocates look the same or come from the same background and that’s great, because neither do foster kids.”

As Genevieve reflects on her first few months at Yolo County CASA, she highlights how collaborative the system is, “There are a lot of professionals involved in the life of a child in the dependency system. Everyone listens to one another and collaborates. The CASA volunteer is a critical connection point. It’s just inspiring to see it all come together.”

Speaking of inspiring, Genevieve herself would love to be a CASA volunteer someday. “Right now I am busy learning as much as I can and spreading the word, but when I am ready, I would love to become a CASA volunteer myself one day.”

However, her ultimate goal is to put herself out of business. “I hope that someday, I convince so many people to become CASA volunteers that there is no longer a need for my position. That would be a happy day for me… and from the generosity and dedication I’ve seen in this community, I think we can get there.”

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