Hearts of Yolo Profile: Nancy Pacheco

Thursday, Jun 9, 2016

Nancy Pacheco is a mother, a wife, a CASA, a Guardian Scholar Mentor, a volunteer for the Foster and Kinship Care Program at Woodland Community College, and works as an Advocate Supervisor at Yolo County CASA. “There is a lot of need out there when it comes to foster children and my husband and I do whatever we can to support them, both when they are young and after they’ve aged out of the system.”

Nancy has always had a giving heart. Knowing she wanted to dedicate her career to helping others, she majored in sociology at UC Davis, receiving her B.A. in 2008, and went on to obtain her Master’s degree in the subject in 2015. While she first heard about CASA when she was an undergraduate at UC Davis, she decided to do the training and become a CASA when her cousin and aunt asked her if she wanted to do it with them. “I knew I wanted to volunteer for CASA ever since I heard about it as an undergraduate. When my cousin and aunt told me they were going through the training a few years later, it was the perfect time.”

Around this same time, the same cousin who invited her to the CASA training also told her CASA was hiring. Nancy was hired through AmeriCorps to volunteer at Yolo County CASA as an Advocate Support Specialist. “One of my main roles at Yolo County CASA is to recruit new volunteers. Since I first heard about CASA as a student, I decided to start going to Woodland Community College, Sacramento City College, UC Davis, and UC Davis School of Law to recruit. I give a little spiel at the beginning of a class and the return has been great. Even if they don’t sign up for the next training, it plants the seeds that they, like me, have the ability to make a difference someday.”

Nancy has been with her current CASA for two years and loves the close relationship they share. “Often you hear about it taking a long time for a foster child to open up to their CASA but for some reason we hit it off right away. My most-fulfilling moment was when my CASA child told me about a conversation she had with her biological mother. She was sharing with her mother that she was going through a particularly hard time and her mother asked her who she turns to for advice and support in those situations. She told me that right away she said, ‘My CASA, Nancy.’ It doesn’t get more fulfilling than that.”

In addition to being a CASA, Nancy has taught classes geared toward independence for older foster children through the Foster and Kinship Care program at Woodland Community College. She also mentors a Guardian Scholar at UC Davis. “Guardian Scholars are foster children who are now adults and aged out of the system. However, under AB 12, a foster child between the ages of 18 and 21 can receive support and guidance if they are working toward a goal like going to school. That is where mentorship comes in. My husband and I have even opened our doors for some of these adults to stay with us in times of need like when they are in between apartments.”

Nancy and her husband Ben are busy with a full house of their own-- their six-month-old son, Joachim, and two dogs, Mitzy and Rocky, keep them on their toes. However, despite their busy careers, volunteer work, and family life, their capacity seems endless. “We don’t think about time as a number. We just do what we can to help and everything falls into place. When your heart is full, a full schedule doesn’t seem so busy or stressful. As much as what we do helps others, it also fills our hearts with joy and happiness.”

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