By Dami Akande


Cassie Roach first became involved with Doctors Without Walls in July 2015, after she graduated UCSB as a Biopsychology and Religious Studies double major. In her three years with DWW, she has worked as a scribe as well as in packs and now currently serves as coordinator of the Lompoc clinic. As she’s become more and more familiar with the city, she has been able to identify many of its unique needs. While other DWW clinics primarily serve the homeless population, the Lompoc clinic sees a large volume of low-income individuals. Cassie explains that this is likely due to the city’s shortage of primary care providers. As coordinator, she works diligently to find the balance between addressing the population’s needs and staying within the clinic’s limits.

Cassie’s work with the underserved doesn’t end with DWW, but continues at New Beginnings Counseling Center. New Beginnings is a counseling center that serves low income and homeless individuals therefore, it does not turn anyone away based on their inability to pay. At New Beginnings, Cassie works as a case manager and program coordinator of the Safe Parking program. The Safe Parking program is catered to individuals and families experiencing homelessness and living in vehicles.The program creates contracts with churches, cities/counties, and businesses in order to provide individuals living in vehicles a place to stay at night. “It’s taking readily available resources such as an empty parking lot at night and repurposing it for the beneficial use of providing shelter for people,” Cassie explains.

The Safe Parking Program is an innovative success that is gaining more and more recognition each day. “We were able to get a grant a couple of years ago to create a best practices manual,” Cassie shares, “The program is more or less becoming the national model.” The program currently has contracts with 23 different lots, resulting in a total of 134 spaces available from 7p-7am for program participants. As program coordinator, Cassie working with other agencies for partnerships, manages the public relations of the program, and trains people from other communities who want technical assistance trying to start their own program.

When asked what advice she’d give to her fellow volunteers, Cassie encourages them to establish solid boundaries and practice self-care. “You have to realize that you are making a difference and you can’t solve every single problem,” she says, “you’re being a big help just doing what you do have the capability to do. Self care and being able to de-stress and shake off what happened during the day and not internalize it is really important. You gotta be ready to take care of yourself so you can take care of the next person.”

Thank you Cassie for your inspiring work in our community!