Do love for children? Do you ever wonder how you could make a difference in the lives of children who have experienced abuse, been abandoned, or neglected? The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) program is in search of more volunteers. This program is often the only consistency a child may experience, while going through court. Often court cases may take longer than a year to close and while a child is waiting, a GAL volunteer can offer friendship, mentorship, and most importantly, be their voice.
Recently there were 4 new Guardian ad Litems who were sworn-in at a ceremony at the Hendry County Courthouse. Dottie Seibel, Christine Eaton, Mary Pringle, Natalie Linares, and Shannon Weller each took the Guardian Ad Litem Oath:
“I do solemly swear that to the best of my ability I shall perform the duties assigned to me by statute. As a Guardian ad Litem, I shall abide by the orders of the Court and ensure that orders are properly executed. I shall respect the confidentiality of all information or reports revealed to me. Unless entitled by law or authorized by court order, I shall not communicate to any person anything I learn or obtain from any report or record maintained. I shall serve faithfully and always represent the best interest of each child, until discharged by the Court.”
“The Guardian ad Litem’s (GAL) mission is to advocate for the child’s best interests. GAL volunteers, are appointed by the Court to advocate for the best interest of a child during legal proceedings. Legal Education is not a requirement of being a GAL, having a heart for children is!” says the newly sworn in GAL, Natalie Linares. She goes on to explain, “Locally, the 20th Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program supports volunteers advocating for children in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. 20th Circuit staff includes Program Attorneys and Child Advocacy Coordinators located in four offices in Fort Myers, Naples, Port Charlotte, and LaBelle, to support local volunteer Guardians ad Litem.” Linares says she became a GAL because she, herself, had one when she was a very young child- and she wanted to be able to give back and make a difference for a child in need.
Program administrators say they’re running low on volunteers to help out. If you’re interested in volunteering visit the website at: guardianadlitem.org