Senate District 6 Unsung Hero
Sacramento Children's Home
Residential and Family Resource Volunteer
Since 1989 Pat Yanes has been spending her free time as a volunteer at the Sacramento Children’s Home. Through the years, she has spent countless hours playing board games, reading stories, and being a good role model and helping to fill a void in the lives of so many boys in the Residential Treatment Program. The Sacramento Children’s Home has been dedicated to the care and support of Sacramento’s most vulnerable children and families for nearly 150 years. There are many ways to get involved and make a difference to a child at the Sacramento Children’s Home. If you would like to volunteer, please go to: http://www.kidshome.org/how-to-help/volunteer-support/
Tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up in Lake Tahoe and at the age of 21 I went to work at Harvey's Casino as a card dealer. I now live in North Sacramento. I've been here for 25 years. I worked for 22 years at Raley's. My family is scattered from Southern California to Sacramento.
How are you making a difference in your community?
In the 1980's I went to numerous self-help groups and they always suggested the need to "give-back". My brother and sister-in-law were on the board of the Sacramento Children's Home and offered me a volunteer opportunity. And so it began. I began volunteering in 1989 at the live-in residency program called the Cowell Center and have kept with it since then.
What inspires your community efforts?
My inspiration is what I see in the life of a six-year boy who looks like an angel on the outside, but is a pile of pain on the inside after being abandoned by his birth family. Twenty years later, that little boy invited myself and the other staff of the Children's Home to lunch. He remembered me rubbing his feet and giving him Christmas Cookies. He invited us to lunch to extend an invitation to the staff to attend his wedding so he would have someone to sit on his side of the church. We were his family.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Tutoring programs, basketball and soccer camps that I was able to sponsor and coordinate for the boys at the home. Also, movies were always a popular pass time for the boys too. A fond memory was when we started a quiet time session for the boys at the home. After bath time, they could have a foot/leg and arm massage which, in turn, reduced the stress and conflicts in the boys living area.
We also worked diligently on conflict resolution matters with the boys. I was very touched when one day a young man approached me and apologized for his foul language. I saw it as a breakthrough and accomplishment in the life of one child.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
I've made mistakes in my life - as everyone has. But can't understand why we as a society don't value the people who work with those that have the most need. I don't understand why people don't take more of interest in the needs of children who need the love of someone in their life. All it takes is one caring person to make a difference in the life of a child.
What kind of lessons do you work to instill in the kids?
Kindness is always important. I am so proud of my surrogate nephew who is six. He has grown into such an amazing young boy. I see it as a second chance to see a child grow into all that he can be.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
Listen to the children, understand their internal conflicts, and teach them that they don't have to turn their lives over to selling drugs on the corner because that's an easy cop-out. We need to prepare our children who have no families other than the children's home, with the tools to survive in our communities as they age out of the home or foster program, so they can have a brighter future.
How do you decompress?
Driving to Southern California to see "my babies" (surrogate kids), reading, traveling, and waking up with a day to myself is always nice and if it's in a foreign country, even better.