Hearts of Yolo: Kendra Shapiro

Thursday, Mar 2, 2017

From a young age, Kendra Shapiro understood the importance of a stable, positive relationship. “When I was growing up I had to Kendrago live with a cousin I had only met once as my mother recovered from addiction. He ended up being one of the best role models in my life and continued to help me even after I went back to live with my mom. If it weren’t for him, my life would be a lot different. He really kept me on a positive path.”

Kendra’s difficult childhood inspired her to dedicate her career to helping people. She began attending Sacramento State University as a nursing student but switched majors to sociology after taking a sociology class that she loved. “I was attracted to the discipline from studying separate circumstances and how they affect individual outcomes and resiliency. I absolutely love the field.”

One day in class she found out about Sacramento CASA, but applied to the training in Yolo County where she was born and currently lives. She has now been a CASA for several months and has found the experience to be quite moving. “This experience has inspired me to get a Master’s degree in social work so that I can work directly with children and adults who need help.”

Kendra recalls her first meeting with her CASA child positively. “I met her and she immediately told me that she knew her ABCs and sang them to me. We fell into a routine right away. I would pick her up for each visit from school and we would go to McDonald’s and the park.” However, when her foster child was moved to a different placement, she became fearful over going outside. “I advocated for her to go to counseling and made phone calls until I got her a referral. It showed me how important it is to have a CASA. It would have been easy for everyone to think she just didn’t like being outdoors but I knew that she loved going to the park and something was wrong. With the help of her counselor, she got to the root of the cause and is now willing to play outside again. I was the first one she asked to take her to the park after her move.”

As Kendra reflects on being a CASA volunteer, she again uses her own experience as a guide. “Once when I was volunteering in high school, I opened up to my volunteer coordinator. She said you would never know by looking at me or listening to me that I come from a rough background. It was really eye opening. Sometimes we need a trusted person to confide in. It can make all the difference in achieving resilience. Relationships are so important. To this day I thank my cousin. He was my informal CASA and I hope to pay it forward with my CASA child.”

Thank you, Kendra. You’ve already paid it forward and we are so grateful that you are making a difference for foster children!

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