Hearts of Yolo: Berenice Ceja

Thursday, Sep 21, 2017

Berenice Ceja moved to Yolo County a few years ago to attend college at UC Davis. She heard about Yolo County CASA through an organization she was a part of and felt compelled to apply to be a CASA volunteer. “I had moved to Davis from the Bay Area and was actively looking for impactful ways to get involved in my new community.”

Berenice was accepted to the CASA training and about six months after, accepted her first case. “I felt called to serve someone very similar to me. I chose a female teenager who also had a Latino background. We found that we had a lot in common right away. Not only did we come from similar backgrounds, we both liked being out and about, we liked similar music and dancing, and spending some of our free time watching shows on Netflix.”

About nine months into their relationship, Berenice remembers a time where her CASA youth really opened up. “We were at a museum and she said, ‘I am really willing to connect and give this a try.’ I can only imagine how hard it is to trust again after being abused or neglected, and that was a pivotal moment in our relationship.”

About six months before her CASA case ended, Berenice moved to Oakland to teach high school in an under privileged area. Despite the distance, she still saw her CASA child at least once a month until the case ended. She also tries to keep in touch now that her case is over.

As for the future, Berenice feels forever touched by her CASA experience. “Especially working in an under privileged school, I see many foster children and I have a whole new understanding of what they are going through.” She hopes to find a CASA organization to volunteer at locally. Down the road, she might even become a foster parent. “There is so much need out there and if the opportunity presents itself and I am in the right place, I would definitely consider becoming a foster parent.”

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