Hearts of Yolo Update: Jeannette Lejardi

Thursday, Jul 13, 2017

Last year we profiled Jeannette Lejardi, one of our incredible CASA volunteers. Today we are excited to share an update about her experiences as a CASA volunteer this past year.

1) Can you describe a special moment that stands out to you as a CASA volunteer?

I have been involved with my CASA youth for six years, first as a CASA volunteer and then as a mentor. We first talked about college when she was in the 7th grade. Early on she did not have a voice. This year we toured a state college together that she decided she wanted to attend. During the long car ride there, we were reminiscing about her journey over the last six years. She said that she had finally found a voice for herself and was getting what she wanted in life.  

Indeed she has. After being accepted at that college, I took her to an overnight college orientation where she picked her classes and stayed in the dorm that she is assigned to for the fall. These special moments represent how far she has come in her growth and development. She has been a sponge, soaking up everything offered to her. She has been focused on school, making good choices, volunteering, working summer jobs, trying new things, and taking advantage of opportunities presented. I could not be prouder of her. She is an inspiration to me. I hope when she is at college she remembers our tradition that it's okay to eat dessert first, sometimes.

2) What has surprised you the most about being a CASA volunteer?

I have been a CASA volunteer for three teenaged girls, all of my choosing. I have been surprised by just how important the consistency of the weekly visits are to building trust and how attached I have become. I have also been surprised by how the relationships change once the cases are over.

3) What has been the hardest part of being a CASA volunteer?

Sometimes you have to set limits and boundaries when your CASA youth ask for things. I give the gift of my time and experiences to broaden their world and development, but not things. Also, sometimes, they can be moody and shutdown. I have to remember it’s not personal. They have a lot going on so I need to be patient and flexible.

4) What are your next steps as a CASA volunteer? 

I would like to take on another case in the future as being a CASA is so rewarding, but I may consider a younger child. The CASA organization is filled with amazing and giving people, and I would like to continue being a part of it.  

5) If you had to sum up being a CASA volunteer in one sentence, what would you say?

A CASA volunteer makes a difference in the life of a child by teaching them how to find their voice and advocate for themselves, trust and form supportive relationships, see the strengths in themselves, and develop resiliency for the future.  

 

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