Hearts of Yolo: Vita Salmieri

Thursday, Aug 2, 2018

              Vita Salmieri is no stranger to volunteering. She is a Rotarian, Soroptomist, and OddFellow and spends a lot of her free time giving back. In fact, it was through her Rotary club that she heard about Yolo County CASA. “The Executive Director at the time came and talked to my Rotary club about Yolo County CASA and I thought it sounded like a great way to give back in my retirement. I applied and was accepted and have been a CASA volunteer for over seven years. I truly feel like it’s the most meaningful volunteer work I’ve ever done.”

                Vita has been with her current CASA child for over five years. “I started with my current CASA child when he was thirteen years old. His father had just passed away on his birthday. It was hard to even imagine him going through all of that at his age. It really ripped my heart out.”

                As time progressed, Vita and her CASA youth grew closer and he began to confide in her more. “I made it very clear to him that I am his sounding board. He can tell me anything and I will keep it confidential, unless it’s something I have to report.” In addition the effort she put into making him feel safe with her, Vita also made sure her CASA youth knew her exact priorities. “I told him early on that I am there for him because I want to be. I told him that I didn’t get paid to do this, that I do it because I care about HIM. I actually once heard from his sister’s CASA volunteer that he was talking about how nice it was that his CASA volunteer doesn’t get paid and just visits because she wants to."

                Vita’s CASA child went through some tough moves throughout his time in foster care, which sometimes caused him to act out. “When he did things he wasn’t supposed to, I treated him like I would my own son. I gave him ‘tough love’ and told him that I am hard on him because I care about him. He really got it and thanked me for being “hard on him’ in subsequent conversations.

                In a month, Vita’s CASA youth will move across the country to be with family, and she made him a special deal to keep him motivated to achieve the goals they set together. “He wants to go to college and study visual arts. I gave him half of his high school graduation present earlier this summer and I told him I would give him half of his high school graduation gift after he enrolls in college once he moves. I told him that even from far away, he can’t escape my ‘tough love,” and he laughed and thanked me.”

                To anyone thinking of becoming a CASA volunteer, Vita is encouraging. “The things foster kids have gone through are just heartbreaking. I encourage anyone who thinks they have it in their heart to help. By profession, I worked for a national accounting company as an accounting manager for 30 years. I wasn’t a teacher, a social worker, or anything like that. The training and continuing support from the CASA staff are all you need to succeed… in addition to the love in your heart.”

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