Hearts of Yolo: John Morelli

Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017

                John Morelli has dedicated his life to mentoring youth in various ways. Born and raised in Woodland, he was a junior high and high school teacher in the Woodland Joint Unified School District for 38 years.  He became a CASA volunteer at the urging of Judge Basha. “My wife and I would run into Judge Basha in church and he kept suggesting that I become a CASA volunteer. I was intrigued and went through the training process shortly after.”

                John had two CASA youths assigned to him over a few years. One of his CASA youth’s was from West Sacramento. “We had a great relationship. He was a nice young man and ended up being reunited with his mother. We continued visits informally a little while after our assignment ended through Yolo County CASA at his mother’s request. I have an open door policy that he can always keep in touch.”

                John’s other CASA youth is now a senior in high school. “I feel fortunate to have had both of these youths in my life. I went into being a CASA volunteer planning to have an impact on their lives. What I didn’t know is how much of an impact both boys would have on mine.”

                Being a volunteer, John says, really makes an impact. “The volunteer aspect of being a CASA immediately shows the youth why you are there. Both my CASA youth were a bit skeptical at first, but when they realized that I truly wanted to spend time with them and help them, their eyes just lit up. Being a volunteer sends a powerful message. ”

                Going to court was a highlight of John’s CASA volunteer experience. “I faithfully wrote court reports for my CASA youths and advocated for their best interests based on our visits. Judge Basha took my input very seriously. It was a great experience to go to court and see how the dependency system works, and Judge Basha is just one in a million. He really cares about the kids.”

                Recently, John was recruited to tutor at-risk youth first at the courthouse, then at Juvenile Hall, and now at a school with a large population of at-risk youth. “I really enjoy helping youth and I am grateful to find ways to do that here in Yolo County. Just this morning I was tutoring a few students and it made my day brighter.”

                As for the future, John plans to continue to help in whatever way he can and encourages others to do the same. “There is no shortage of children out there who need a helping hand. I encourage anyone interested in being a CASA volunteer to give it a try. The staff at Yolo County CASA are just amazing people and help you with whatever you need. As I mentioned before—you sign up to make an impact on the life of a child but inevitably, they will make an equal or greater impact on your life.”

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