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400 Faces: Sarah Pedarre, executive director of Forsyth County Community Connection
Sarah Pedarre
Sarah Pedarre, executive director of Forsyth County Community Connection - photo by Brian Paglia

This article appears in the December issue of 400 Life.

Maybe it was inevitable that Sarah Pedarre would go into a career that helps families and children.

The executive director of Forsyth County Community Connection was one of six kids growing up and started babysitting when she was 8 years old.

“I’ve always been drawn to kids and family,” Pedarre said.

Now, she has five kids of her own, as well as three grandkids, and works to fill in gaps in services for families in the community. Since Pedarre took over two years ago after 12 years with the YMCA, Forsyth County Community Connection has focused on the local foster care system, particularly supporting current foster families and recruiting new ones.

Pedarre talked to 400 LIFE about building her own family, getting used to Cajun food and the biggest challenges facing families today.

What are the most important values for your family?

“Definitely being there for each other. At the end of the day, we’re going to know each other the longest in our lifetime. Friends are going to come and go. But family is forever. So no matter what being there for each other.

“Laughter is also huge. I think it’s valuable to be able to laugh at yourself [and] see the good in everything.”

What’s your favorite family tradition?

“Dinner around the table. We all sit around the table and we give our best, worst and learned for the day. I think it’s important to have a pulse on the kids and what’s going on.

“I should also mentioned that we have a ‘Pedarre Pig Roast’ every year over Labor Day. We even have T-shirts. I’ve been trying to stop it after the second one, but we had our 10th one this year. My husband, who is from Louisiana, always wanted to cook a pig.

“Now we take up two yards in the neighborhood. I think my husband would love it if it turned into a community festival. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun.”

So how do you like Cajun food now?

“My heat index has definitely increased. I did not really have a palate for it before. But it’s a different kind of heat with Cajun food that I really do enjoy. We do a lot of seafood and boils. We definitely eat well. We have neighbors that show up and are like, ‘What’s for dinner?’”

What’s the biggest challenge families face these days?

“Screen time and devices. I hate when you go out to dinner and you see a whole family staring at their tablets and phones. Or I’ll run on the Greenway, and there will be a mom pushing a stroller, and there will be a little kid with a tablet. I’m like, ‘You have this great, big world! Put the devices down!’

“And social media. I can’t imagine seeing all these profiles of people, and they have this persona of how great and wonderful their life is. I just can’t imagine what that must be like for the kids growing up.

“Hopefully we’ll see a device-free wave coming through. It will be interesting to see this generation that has grown up on screens when they start having kids to see the direction they go.”