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Smith: Jaycee Dugard is done with being isolated, and she’s giving back

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When at last, after 18 years, she was rescued from the two monsters who abducted her from South Lake Tahoe at age 11, Jaycee Dugard might have slipped away to a life of quiet seclusion.

But Dugard is wired to be out, helping people. When she was 9 and living as a regular kid, she wrote in her diary that when grown up she’d work with people who are homeless, and with horses.

Her childhood resolve to serve was cemented when she and her two daughters came to Sonoma Valley shortly after their rescue for assistance in their recovery from the trauma they suffered as captives of Phillip and Nancy Garrido of Antioch.

Dugard and the girls, fathered by Garrido, flourished in the care of Rebecca Bailey of Sonoma Valley, a nationally known psychologist specializing in the treatment of survivors of extreme crisis, and Bailey’s husband, chef Charles Holmes, and their horses, and others in the valley.

“My healing had a lot to do with the horses,” Dugard, now 39, said from a couch at the Bailey-Holmes home. She said also that soon after the 2009 rescue prompted by two observant UC Berkeley police officers, she and her girls benefited hugely from the protective kindness shown by others in the valley.

“The support of the community was amazing,” said Dugard, who’s understandably cautious about saying where in Northern California she lives now.

Both of her former tormentors were sentenced to prison in 2011: Phillip Garrido to 431 years, Nancy Garrido to 36 years to life.

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DUGARD’S EXPERIENCE in the embrace of Bailey, Holmes and Sonoma Valley moved her to create the JAYC Foundation. Its goal, she said “is to offer the kind of support and therapy that my family got.”

Psychologist Bailey is a key partner of Dugard in the JAYC Foundation — its name stands for Just Ask Yourself to Care. “It has become our life passion,” she said.

A few weeks back, the foundation celebrated the 10th anniversary of Dugard and her daughters being freed with a gala at Jeff and Roberta Kunde’s winery in Kenwood.

“The Kundes were so generous,” Dugard said. And the fundraiser was a huge success.

Guests donated a total of $100,000 for the nonprofit foundation’s wide-ranging mission to assist individuals and families recovering from severe crisis, and to help law enforcement improve the likelihood that victims such as Dugard will not be overlooked.

Frequent compliance checks by state parole agents to the Garrido home failed to discover that Dugard was imprisoned in ramshackle structures in the backyard. In contrast to that failing, her rescue was set into motion after suspicions stirred in the minds of two UC Berkeley officers when Phillip Garrido came onto the Cal campus in August of 2009, with two uneasy girls in tow, to inquire about holding an event there for his religious organization, God’s Desire.

Dugard now welcomes opportunities to speak with law enforcement officers whose empathy, powers of observation and gut feelings, she hopes, will allow them to hone in on perpetrators such as the Garridos.

“Maybe they’ll go back and look a second time when they have an instinct about something,” she said.

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SPECIAL GUESTS at her foundation’s premiere fundraising celebration at Kunde Family Winery included members of another family assisted by the foundation, the Almgrens.

In April of 2015, 9-year-old Jordon Almgren of Discovery Bay in Contra Costa County was stabbed to death as he slept at his family’s home.

Eighteen-year-old William “Billy” Shultz, a friend of Jordon’s older brother, Evan, was convicted of the slaying and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.

Dugard’s foundation has used contact with gentle horses and other therapies to assist survivors of North Bay wildfires and people from across the U.S. who’ve suffered from abductions, killings of loved ones and other extreme trauma.

“We want to continue to do the national work, but we want to do more local work,” said Bailey, the foundation’s director of clinical programs.

She and Dugard said the desire to expand their mission, and the success of the foundation’s first benefit, assure that there will be another fundraising event in Sonoma County next year. You can watch for details, and learn more about the JAYC Foundation, at thejaycfoundation.org.

Oh, Dugard’s daughters: They are now 25 and 21. Both are very much getting on with their lives and they’re enjoying, along with their mom, the start of their 11th year of freedom.

You can reach Staff Writer Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 or chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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