Hearts of Yolo: Nicholas Kory

Thursday, Jul 6, 2017

Nicholas Kory leads a busy life. He is studying computer science and engineering at UC Davis and works full-time as a programmer analyst. He first heard about Yolo County CASA through a sorority fundraiser on campus. “I was at a time in my life where I really wanted to volunteer to focus my energy into something meaningful, impactful, and hands on.”

Five years later, Nicholas has had two cases and is helping his current CASA youth make the transition to adulthood. “I currently work with a non-minor dependent. He is receiving money to find housing and he is trying to figure out how to balance living on that money, plus working, plus trying to go back to school.” The magnitude of the situation is not lost on Nicholas, “Most of us have parents to help us navigate all of those challenges at his age. Watching him go through these transitions on his own really drives home the importance of the role of a CASA volunteer.”

Nicholas also speaks to the importance of the CASA volunteer role when he reflects on his court reports. “When my CASA youth reads my court reports, he always says they are accurate and that I ‘get’ him more than anyone else. I know it’s because I am the only person in his life that sees him consistently one-on-one. When I was training to be a CASA volunteer, the importance of the role was apparent, but after experiencing it firsthand for almost six years, I now know how crucial it is for foster children to have this type of relationship with someone.”

Both of Nicholas’ CASA cases have been older youth involving delinquency. “I’ve found that I am good with these types of cases because I listen as openly as I can. I go into every conversation with absolutely no preconceived notion of how it is going to go.”

And his style has paid off in a big way. “My current CASA youth was almost charged with a crime he did not commit because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and fit the profile of the suspect. I could have easily discounted what he said like others had, but I truly listened and it just wasn’t adding up. I knew he was innocent and helped him navigate a really complex situation. Listening without agenda and building trust and strong relationships are key to so many things in life but absolutely crucial for foster children.”

Nicholas’ experience as a CASA volunteer has been so moving that he would even considering fostering someday. “If the opportunity presented itself, and I am in the right place for it, I would love to be a foster parent someday. There are so many children out there that just had bad luck through no fault of their own.”

As Nicholas reflects further on his experience as a CASA volunteer, he goes back to listening. “It’s amazing how many times I’ve witnessed decisions being made over financial or organizational interests on behalf of my CASA youths. I understand why it happens, but I am in the position to stand up as an unpaid volunteer and say, ‘I know this child well, this is not in his best interest, and here are all the reasons why.’ During times like this I realize that I have a lot of power to make a true difference for a child who would otherwise be misrepresented or misplaced because the dependency system is just so impacted.”

He also reflects on the lighter aspects, “It’s pretty fun to go to the mall, grab a bite to eat, and play basketball together. We all need some fun and downtime in life.”

 

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