Volunteer turned executive plays pivotal role at Casa Pacifica

March 27 – April 2, 2020 • Vol. 21, No. 2

By Marissa Nall
Staff Writer

From her first part-time volunteer role in the Casa Pacifica Angels 21 years ago, Carrie Hughes has risen to become chief development officer for the children and family services nonprofit, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
That’s meant growing the organization’s signature Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival from a few hundred attendees to more than 4,500, with 150 vendors, and closing a $16.6 million capital campaign to construct two new buildings to expand its programs. The five-year campaign funded the expansion of the Casa Pacifica campus to include residential cottages for youth in therapy and a new vocational education center.
“I have a strong belief in the value and importance of building relationships with people,” Hughes said.
Since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, maintaining those relationships has become even more critical, she said, including frequent check-ins with donors and community partners, running errands for them and staying connected on social media.
It’s also meant some differences in the day-to-day services Casa Pacifica is able to deliver.
“It’s a big change on campus, because normally we take the kids out into the community,” Hughes said. With the restrictions, the organization has had to switch gears, including bringing an ice cream truck, activities and a movie night to them.
The job has given her a chance to mentor kids she has worked with, including a brother and sister, Blake and Mary, who are living with cystic fibrosis.
“From the moment I met them, they tugged at my heart in a way I’d never experienced before,” she said.
With the help of donors she was able to grant them their last wishes before they died, including attending a Lakers game and taking a flight in an airplane.
“I think the point of this is to encourage people to take a chance and be there for these youth,” Hughes said. “They need so much, but you receive so much more in return.”