Cindy Margolin really does make a difference for the youth and families of the Santa Cruz County community. Like all other Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers, she has dedicated her time to lend a voice and be a caring, stable presence to foster youth in our community. Cindy’s dedication is awe-inspiring, and her work has changed lives. She was sworn in by the Santa Cruz County Court as a volunteer youth Advocate back in 2002, after attending the required comprehensive 35-hour training. Over these past 20 years, she has been matched one-on-one with eight youth, ranging in age from toddlers to teens, located across the county. She has logged over ten years of active advocacy during which she volunteered an average of 20 hours per month. She spends at least one afternoon each week with the youth she is matched with, getting to know them, their caregivers, and what they need. She fiercely advocates for their best interest in Court, school, and even healthcare needs.
Cindy is not afraid of any situation and embraces difficult situations head-on. She does not shy away from speaking the truth to provide a foster youth’s perspective. She is a fierce advocate, standing up for the best interest of our community’s youth. Cindy will do anything to support a child and their family in our community to make sure they receive the services and resources they need to thrive. For example, over a five-year period, she attended 47 court hearings and wrote court report cases for each hearing, advocating for the permanency and well-being of a child with special needs. For another youth, she logged over 2,000 miles over a three-year period.
Cindy is that volunteer you can rely on, that you know will embrace any situation and work tirelessly for the best interest of the youth. She will be matched with any child, of any age, location, history, disability, or situation. She has volunteered to work with youth in extremely complex situations that benefit from a more specialized skill set and approach, that others may shy away from. She accepts the kids for who they are, seeing beyond any physical, mental, or emotional impairments. She has a special ability to uncover the essence of every youth, meet them where they are, and connect with them, building trust and a special bond like no other. She finds the good and beautiful in every child that others might have overlooked and celebrates their successes. She never gives up and these cases have not been easy. Cindy is truly special in her ability to make stuff happen, helping our youth get what they need.
Even when she is on break from an assignment, between cases, and is not logging official volunteer hours, she continues to stay in touch with some of the youth and their families. Cindy continues to support and advocate for these kids outside of an official court case. To exemplify her dedication, Cindy has traveled out of state to visit a youth who had moved, advocate for their caregivers, and help them with what they need.
Our community is better because of Cindy’s efforts, as these children have had a tenacious, yet caring adult standing up for their best interests so they can thrive. In addition, she has built relationships with all members of each youth’s family and recognized the importance of the family unit. She really took the time to meet the families and caregivers where they were and tailored her approach for what they needed. She respected what caregivers wanted for youth and for the family. Even when she disagreed with someone, she recognized others’ strengths and points of view.
All volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates are amazing members of our community. However, Cindy is something exceptional. Her 20 years as a CASA, her countless hours in and out of the courtroom, her willingness to serve the community’s most vulnerable youth, her dedication to serve that continues beyond an official case assignment, and her complete and total devotion to make sure a child can thrive, sets her apart and is the difference.
Congrats to Cindy for winning the Be the Difference Award 2022 from the Volunteer Center for her service.