Hearts of Yolo: Jean Tugadi

Thursday, Jul 19, 2018

Jean Tugadi was inspired to be a CASA volunteer by her own life experiences. “I had my daughter when I was in high school. I was really inspired by the social worker who worked with me at that time. In fact, she inspired me to go back to school as my daughter got older and I just graduated from UC Davis with a degree in both sociology and psychology. I’ve always known I want to give back in a similar way.”

Jean heard about Yolo County CASA through volunteermatch.org and has been a CASA volunteer for about a year. “My CASA youth is a thirteen year-old girl. It was important to me to advocate for someone a little older because I was a teenager when I got pregnant with my daughter. She is an incredibly sweet young lady, and though my case is ending soon, we’ve become very good friends and will remain so.”

Jean remembers a special moment when she and her CASA youth were out to eat. “She started telling me a lot of personal stuff… like who she was dating, problems she was having, etc. She told me she didn’t mind telling me all this personal stuff because I am like a second mom. At that point it really hit me how much foster children need a consistent adult figure in their lives.”

School is also an area where Jean realized the importance of her role. “I took a really active role in her IEPs and advocating for her needs. If I weren’t there doing that, so much would have fallen through the cracks. Again, CASA volunteers just have a very critical role to fill in the life of a foster child.”

Jean currently works in case management and support for disabled people. Since she just finished college, she plans to take some time to regroup and figure out next steps when her case ends. And eventually, she wants to take on another case— hopefully another teen or even a transitional aged foster youth. “I truly can’t think of a better way to volunteer my time.”

               

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