Hearts of Yolo: Cindy Burger

Thursday, Oct 6, 2016

Cindy Burger is no stranger to the difficult circumstances many foster children face. “I was placed in foster care at five years old and I was moved at least three, maybe four times over the course of a year or so. When I was six, my sister and I were placed together with a wonderful couple. They eventually adopted us and it truly turned my life around. They showed me that people care and come into your life to stay.”

As an adult, Cindy was looking for part-time administrative work when she saw an employment ad for Yolo County CASA in the local paper. “I began reading about this organization that helps to advocate for foster children by providing stable relationships to them and a voice in court. I was filled with a desire to give back and it sounded like just the right organization.” When Cindy began working at Yolo County CASA as an administrative assistant, she was immediately struck by the need for CASA volunteers in Yolo County. “I walked in and saw floor to ceiling files of children in foster care. It really hit me because each file was a kid just like me as a five-year-old that all of a sudden was placed in a new environment, worlds away from anything familiar.”

While Cindy dedicated herself to her administrative work at CASA, she found herself wanting to do more, “Bill Corwin, the executive director at the time, asked me if I wanted to be a guinea pig. I said yes and I was trained and assigned as the first Yolo County CASA volunteer. I had taught in special education for many years before that and my caseload was made of up of children with learning challenges, or children who were severely emotionally disturbed or had behavior disorders. Some of my students were also the kids who ended up in the system and I wanted to advocate for them. They are the ones that need it the most.”

Through tears, Cindy remembers the first question her eight-year-old CASA child asked her. “I walked in and he asked me, ‘How many kids do you got?’ I knew right away he was wondering how many other children I advocated for. I told him, ‘You’re the only one,' and you should have seen the look on his face. He was in awe and overjoyed that he had me all to himself! It still makes me cry.”

After three years with her CASA child, it became clear that Cindy's CASA child needed a male influence and her case transitioned to allow a male CASA to step in. With two adult children and three grandchildren of her own to help with, her time is limited, however she has remained connected to CASA over the years. “When Tracy became the executive director I helped again in the office part time. I’ve also participated as a speaker in some of the trainings over the years and attend events that I can.”

To people thinking of becoming a CASA, Cindy encourages them to help. “As someone who has been on both sides, I know how needed and how rewarding it is. It will probably be the best thing you’ve ever done.”

Thank you, Cindy, for everything you’ve done for Yolo County CASA over the years.

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