Hearts of Yolo Profile: Barbara Engel

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Barbara Engel is no stranger to volunteering. In fact, when she moved to Yolo County because of her husband’s job change, she volunteered for many Barbara Engelorganizations as she learned the local charitable landscape. A longing to really make an impact led her to Yolo County CASA. “I wanted to find something that produced results and changed outcomes. It seemed like I could do that by volunteering to become a CASA.”

Five years later, Barbara has had four foster children and finds a common thread with all of them. “I’ve had four foster girls between the ages of four and eighteen. Across the board, they all just want a consistent relationship and less drama in their lives… a voice that stands out from the chaos they’ve experienced.”

To highlight the importance of CASA volunteers, Barbara discusses a special moment she had with one of her foster children. “She had gotten into a four-year university and I was so proud of her. Many foster children do not go to college so just getting in, she had beaten the odds. When it came time to move, her ride to help her move into the dorms fell through, and she called me. We packed up my car and moved her in together. She really appreciated that I was there and I loved helping her. That experience reminded me how important the relationships CASA volunteers form with their foster children are to them.”

She further exemplifies this relationship by talking about her youngest foster child, “I always had ideas of things we could do or where we could go, be it restaurants, the zoo, etc. No matter what I suggested, she always just wanted to spend time with me at the park. I realized the time we spent together may have been the only time she felt safe to ‘be a five year old.’ I have many fond memories of pushing her on the swings.”

As for the advocacy side, Barbara felt compelled to “move mountains” for her foster children as if they were her own. “Things like doctor’s appointments or even a court memo that gets lost in the shuffle because social workers’ caseloads are so large… that’s where CASAs voices come in. We amplify our foster child’s needs in court and we also amplify them to teachers, doctors, and other crucial figures in their lives.”

Barbara has been a CASA volunteer for five years now, and plans to continue to volunteer as long as she is able. “For as long as I can, I want to continue to be a CASA volunteer. There are a lot of foster children out there who just need a really good friend.”



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