04/13/14 — Guardian ad litem volunteers honored

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Guardian ad litem volunteers honored

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on April 13, 2014 1:50 AM

Some saw an ad on television, others were recruited, but all spend their personal time making sure that children have a voice.

During the Guardian ad Litem (Latin for "guardian during a lawsuit") volunteer appreciation luncheon held this past Friday, the men and women who act as child advocates in the judicial system were thanked for their time by judges, attorneys, state legislators and program officials.

"You guardians give hope to (children). I can't think enough of what you do," said Colleen Kosinski, administrator of the Judicial District 8 Guardian ad Litem program.

Their help has meant even more this year since the program has seen an increased caseload. Since January, the program has received 55 petitions. That's more than the program usually receives in an entire year, Mrs. Kosinski said.

Despite the large number of petitions, the local Guardian ad Litem program for Judicial District 8, which includes Wayne, Greene and Lenoir counties, has been able to bring in enough volunteers to cover the increased caseload.

That doesn't mean that the program couldn't use more volunteers. The program is always on the lookout for individuals willing to take the courses needed to become a child's advocate in the court system.

The program currently serves 223 children with 110 volunteers.

Volunteers come from all backgrounds and join for different reasons. During the appreciation luncheon, a few explained how they got started.

Amanda Sutton decided to join the program after she saw a commercial on television asking for volunteers. As a retired teacher, she felt that it was only fitting to get involved with a program that works to help children.

Debra Tyson had already spent time volunteering. With the urging of Mrs. Kosinski, she decided to spend a few hours a week working with the Guardian ad Litem program.

Maxine and George Fisher also became volunteers during their retirement.

"I thought I need to retire, but I don't want to stop doing things," she said. Maxine then asked her husband.

"I said 'yes' and that was 10 years ago," George said.

"Thanks to these volunteers, professionals and judges, these children are looked at in another way," State Sen. Louis Pate said. "This is God's work."

"It's a time to reflect and say 'yes, you have made a difference in the life of a child," Sen. Don Davis said.

State Rep. Jimmy Dixon used famous quotes to get his point across, such as this one from Albert Einstein: "The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

"This group does not fit in that category," Dixon said. "This group doesn't just look on. It does something."

Interested volunteers can contact Mrs. Kosinski at 919-722-6302.