Hearts of Yolo: Nancy Stephenson

Thursday, Sep 22, 2016

Nancy Stephenson’s dedication to Yolo County CASA dates back to its origin. A mother of four, she first heard about CASA when her oldest daughter became involved as a volunteer for a CASA chapter on the east coast. “She asked me for help watching her own child when she flew out to attend a CASA conference. Shortly after, I read in the paper that a CASA chapter was forming in Yolo County and I was interested in helping along with several of my friends.” And her interest hasn’t waned in nearly 27 years…

Nancy graduated from Yolo County CASA’s first advocate training and chose to advocate for an eight-year-old girl who had recently been removed from her home, along with her four siblings. “The case lasted several years and I followed her through several placements. Sometimes I would drive several hours to see her.” Nancy also made an effort to keep her CASA child in touch with her biological siblings. “A friend of mine, Susie Miller, was a CASA advocate for my CASA child’s sister so every once in a while we tried to do visits together so that the sisters could maintain a relationship. One time we were able to have a party with all five of the siblings, and it was so special to see the kids, who had not been together for a long time, interacting and having fun together. That was a very exciting day for not only the kids, but the CASAs and foster parents involved.”

Thinking back, Nancy remembers a powerful moment when her CASA child said, “You haven’t walked in my shoes.” Nancy states, “Imagine a statement like that coming from a young child. It really makes you realize the adversity foster children face.”

When Nancy’s CASA child was placed in Marin County, she was also assigned a “Big Sister” to advocate on her behalf. Nancy would often communicate with her CASA child’s Big Sister so that they could collaboratively advocate on her behalf. Once, her CASA child’s Big Sister sent an article that Nancy’s CASA child had written about the influence Nancy had on her life. Nancy states through tears, “I still get choked up because she didn’t always express her emotions to me, but then to read this article and everything she said…it gave me great satisfaction in seeing that I did indeed make a difference.”

After being a CASA, Nancy remained dedicated to Yolo County CASA, first as a board member and then as a “Friend of CASA.” “A ‘Friend of CASA’ is the term used for someone who is not involved on a day-to-day basis but helps out occasionally on short-term projects or events and increases CASA’s exposure in the community. I think it’s important for people to know that their assistance can be extremely valuable even if it doesn’t involve a long-term commitment.”

Nancy is no stranger to children’s causes. She has also volunteered for numerous school and athletic programs for her children in their youth as well as being involved with large volunteer organizations, but when she thinks of volunteer options today, CASA is the “biggie.” “CASAs have access to the child’s foster parents, school teachers and counselors, and social workers. Because of this, CASAs have the ability to pick up all the pieces, put them together, and make an incredible difference. It is an essential function for a very vulnerable group of children and I will do whatever I can to support it for as long as I can.”

Thank you, Nancy, for everything you do to help foster children in Yolo County.

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