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Opinion
Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, May 9, 2017 1 year ago

Why I choose to be a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer

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Do these volunteers make a difference? Yes!

By Bill Powell

Guest Writer

I am not a wealthy or particularly gifted person. I consider myself average but blessed in many ways. Yes, my life is not perfect; I have had some bumps in the road. But my children are heathy and doing well. However blessed, I have had the insight to see that is not the case for everyone. 

Many children were born into an environment of neglect, abuse, drugs, prostitution or worse. I have realized, "There but for the grace of God go I." That being said, I have always had this gnawing need to help a child less fortunate.

For me, fostering or adopting was not something I felt I could do. With my kids grown and my grandkids almost grown, I had the luxury to pour myself into my work. When I heard about the GAL program, it intrigued me. After I met and talked to someone who was a GAL, I realized it was what I had been looking for. I have been involved for the last nine years.

The first question people ask me when they find out what I do is, “Do you think you make a difference?" This is a legitimate question. The answer is an emphatic yes! 

I have been on many cases over the years. I can honestly say that for every case I have been on, we made a difference. 

As a volunteer, we are with a team that consists of a caseworker, a lawyer and a volunteer. We only have one agenda: the welfare of the child. Although I cannot cite a case in particular due to confidentiality, I can cite some things that were accomplished on behalf of the child by the Guardian Ad Litem teams I have been a part of.

Every child I have had is in a safe, stable forever home. No child of mine has had any further abuse, neglect or hunger. I have watched a child about to age out of the system with no one to acknowledge, to help, or to care for him, get adopted and thrive. I have seen brothers kept together and not separated. One boy had terrible acne from neglect, and six months later he was in a caring environment with clear skin. 

I have seen children get bikes and toys and go from sleeping on the floor to sleeping on a bed. I have seen grades go from bad to good. I have seen parents get all the help they need to be reunited with their children. I have also been a part of several adoptions. Every child’s medical and dental needs are met, including their mental health. The system is overloaded with children, yet each child is cared for so as to not fall through the cracks.

Does the Guardian Ad Litem program make a difference? You bet it does! In and out-of-court, children have an advocate looking out for them and seeing that their needs are met. Maybe you have that same gnawing need to help a child less fortunate?

Bill Powell lives at 6 Sea Gull Terrace in Ormond Beach.

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