Hearts of Yolo Profile: Jeannette Lejardi

Thursday, Jul 28, 2016

In 1999 Jeannette Lejardi moved from Lodi to Davis, searching for a better school district for her boys who were in third and fifth grade. She ended up finding so much more.

An attorney by trade, Jeannette is involved in many activities that make Yolo County a better place. She was a founding member of the Yolo Conflict Resolution Center, an organization providing conflict resolution strategies for individuals through facilitation, mediation, education, and restorative practices. She enjoys helping people solve problems. She is also involved in the Yolo County to Neighborhood Court, which is a restorative justice program to help offenders in Yolo County take accountability for their actions, to understand the harm they inflicted, and to make things right by taking actions which are in an agreement. “Throughout my career and volunteer activities I have seen how proper communication and facilitation can solve problems. Common understanding and open communication are two ingredients at the cornerstone of improving most situations.”

Jeannette had been aware of Yolo County CASA since she moved to Davis, and when her sons were in high school and college, she felt it was the right time to volunteer to become a CASA. “Being a CASA is about applying those same principles of understanding and communication. By modeling how to be a voice for a CASA child, we teach them how to have a voice for themselves and how to get what they need and want.”

Since her training, Jeannette has been a CASA to three teenage girls. “I take great joy in watching my CASA children grow. When you first get the assignment, many foster children are closed-off and shut down. As a CASA, I continually take my CASA child to new places to broaden their world and allow them to envision a different life for themselves. It brings me great joy to watch them slowly blossom, grow, and change. I’ve had a CASA child go from not answering any questions when we first met to being headed to a four-year college five years later.”

Jeannette highlights that even when a case ends, you have a lasting impact on your CASA child. “When my foster girl wrote these words to me, they were so special that it felt like they were etched in my heart, 'I am thankful for having you in my life. You have made a big impact on my life. You have been there for me since day one.' She told me 'the most important thing about having you as my CASA was knowing you would always be there every week. No one ever cared about my schoolwork like you did. I liked all the new opportunities to do things and your constant words of encouragement.’”

As Jeannette reflects on her CASA experience, she discusses how it was meant to be through all of her life experiences. “I have professional expertise that helps me with the advocacy side but on the relationship side, I bring a lot of what I’ve learned from being a mother. Your CASA child learns what normal and caring relationships are like, and how we are always there for them.”

Thank you, Jeannette, for impacting so many lives.

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