Hearts of Yolo: Grace Salvagno

Wednesday, Jan 9, 2019

Grace Salvagno and her husband Ken Salvagno both recently retired and wanted to volunteer some of their time to a good cause. Having been a court reporter and litigation assistant, Grace has always been aware of Yolo County CASA. “In addition to being familiar with Yolo County CASA through my profession, I had also become aware of the organization through articles in the Davis Enterprise and through a friend of mine who is a reading specialist in the schools. She has always mentioned to me how much kids in foster care need a stable adult relationship. Everything just kind of came together and called me to Yolo County CASA. In fact, my husband joined me and become a CASA volunteer as well.”

Grace’s CASA child is a nine year-old girl. During their visits they like to play at the park and just talk. Through their interactions, Grace learned that her CASA child has been bullied at school and her foster child worried that it night get worse if anyone found out she is in foster care. “We’ve had long talks about her self-worth, and that everything that makes her who she is, is awesome. I try as much as I can to instill self-confidence in who she is, despite some mean comments from other kids.”

Grace wasn’t sure if their talks were helping or not, until she attended her CASA child’s back to school night. “She had written a poem about who she is. In that poem, she talked about being in foster care, and being “awesome” despite it. I thought it was really mature and poignant that she had outed herself about the one thing she was most afraid of. It was a very rewarding moment on this journey.”

In addition to the support Grace gives to her CASA child, she is also grateful for the home in which her CASA child is currently placed. “Her foster mother had been in an abusive and neglectful home situation when she was a child, but has risen above it and is dedicated to providing a loving environment for the kids she takes in. I am really grateful my CASA child gets to be part of that home.”

Because there are a lot of other kids in her CASA child’s home, Grace helps in every way that she can. “My CASA child’s foster mom is so grateful that I sometimes take her to medical appointments. It certainly is above and beyond what is required of CASA volunteers but there is already so much on her foster mom’s plate, I try to provide extra help whenever possible. It’s truly been eye opening how impacted the dependency system is. Foster parents, attorneys, and social workers have such large caseloads… you really see the importance of CASA volunteers.”

In addition to school and medical needs, Grace makes sure she saves time for the fun stuff too. “My CASA child showed an interest in dance, so I was able to get her into a hip hop dance class through the Yolo Children’s fund. It’s been so wonderful watching how many people come together to help foster kids. The dance lessons have been such a wonderful experience for my CASA child and I am so grateful that the Yolo Children’s Fund paid for them.”

To anyone thinking of becoming a CASA, Grace says, “It’s very powerful to make a commitment to help these kids and then truly see your work making an impact. CASA volunteers are so needed… and I am glad I decided to become one.”

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