Hearts of Yolo: Ken Salvango

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2019

Ken Salvagno recently retired from the independent power generation industry, and while he still does some consulting work, he decided to join his wife, Grace Salvagno, in becoming a CASA volunteer in their retirement. “My wife has known about Yolo County CASA for years and thought it would be a great way to give back to kids who really needed it. I happened to agree and we went through the training together.”

Ken’s first two CASA cases fell through because of a long-distance move and another child exiting the dependency system. However, he knew that there was a long-term case out there who really needed him. “I just stuck with it and knew there was a child out there who needed the stable relationship that I could provide. Last September, I was matched with a nine-year old boy. He is a gentle soul and we’ve had a great time together so far.”

 As their relationship has progressed, Ken has provided input about his CASA child’s educational needs. “Developmentally, he is several years behind his age. It’s tricky because he’s gone through periods of homelessness where he wasn’t in school, so we are all trying to make sure he is in the best hands educationally. At his last parent-teacher conference, his foster mom and I both commented about how much we respect the work that has been done by his teachers and special education specialists to help him. It’s been a great team effort.”

While Ken puts a lot of effort into the serious stuff—like court advocacy and academics, he also makes sure he saves time for carefree fun on his visits with his CASA child. “He loves dinosaurs. We’ve spent a lot of time searching for various types of dinosaurs and talking about them.”

Ken also notices his CASA child’s caring demeanor when they play at the park. “He really gravitates toward the younger kids. He wants to help them as much as he can and shows them things. It’s really sweet to watch. Despite everything he’s been through, he’s such a kind kid.”

To anyone thinking of becoming a CASA volunteer, Ken recommends it, “I never realized how needed CASA volunteers are. My CASA child calls me his “old man” and he looks forward to our visits. You can tell that the relationship I have with him is making an impact. We often take it for granted that kids have stable and personal adult relationships in their lives, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the kind intentions of a stranger can completely change a child’s life.”

 

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