The hub of information for the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program, our blog contains posts with announcements, news and events, articles, periodicals and additions or updates to our website.

This page contains published posts from the August 2013 archive sorted chronologically with the newest at the top.

Watford: Jefferson Award for Public Service Gala Report

On Tuesday, June 18 and Wednesday, June 19, 2013, volunteer guardian ad litem Janet "Jan" Watford represented herself and our program at the Jefferson Awards for Public Service gala in Washington, D.C.

She was bestowed this honor after being named Volunteer of the Year by the Tallahassee Democrat and was later also named Volunteer of the Year by the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program.

The below report and photographs were provided by Watford, who wanted to share her experiences with us.

I have returned from Washington D.C. and have recuperated from all the events and sightseeing I did. I had the experience of a lifetime and have been so humbled by the people that I met.

Even though I did not win a prestigious award, I am still a Jefferson Award for Public Service winner in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis category. All ninety recipients received a certificate to state what category they were recognized in; I will hang mine in my home.

How does one compete with a Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Professor Elie Weisel; a reformed Crips gang member out of Los Angeles that has saved hundreds of young men from joining gangs; or a dentist that has established over 3,000 volunteer organizations?

The competition is stiff and I was honored to be in the presence of such greatness. I met so many people that give freely of their time to help make our country a better place to live in. I was able to network with people that will help me with the type of volunteer work I do.

Each one of us — ninety people from all over the country — spoke about our work. I had people encourage me to continue my advocacy on behalf of abused and neglected children. I touched a chord with people that shared their own stories with me of being abused and neglected when they themselves were children. Several of us have exchanged e-mail addresses and I have already made contact since returning back to Tallahassee.

The day after I returned to Tallahassee, my foster child that recently aged out wanted to see me after I told him about meeting the former Crips gang leader. To some teenage boys, a gang member sounds exciting and the fact that I had talked with a notorious gang member peaked my former foster child's interests. I made my way immediately to his apartment and he had gathered three of his friends that are still in foster care; I knew two of them.

They were full of questions and I was able to answer them in such a way as to show them being a gang member is dangerous and there is a better way of life from the information I gained while talking with the former gang member, who told me that I had a good instinct on how to handle things with the young men in foster care. He will continue to advise me as I need his help.

We also talked about the Holocaust. One of the young men is starting college in the Fall at age seventeen and will be studying history. These four young men started talking about what they can do to make life better for their peers and educating themselves by getting a high school diploma and possibly attending college was awesome for me.

As I left the young men, my former foster child told them, "Ms. Jan needs a group hug."

"You know she's number one and she is my GAL," he said.

There is so much that I could tell you about what I learned while in Washington D.C. attending the Jefferson Awards ceremonies, including the effect the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and war memorials made on me, that I could be writing for several hours.

My advocating work is not done, there is much to be done and there are thousands of children that need someone to look out for their best interests. My labor of love for these children is indescribable.

Thanks,

Jan Watford

Original Photo Credit: Jefferson Awards for Public Service --- Volunteer guardian ad litem Janet 'Jan' Watford at the Jefferson Awards for Public Service gala in Washington, D.C. Original Photo Credit: Jefferson Awards for Public Service --- Volunteer guardian ad litem Janet 'Jan' Watford speaking at the Jefferson Awards for Public Service gala in Washington, D.C. Original Photo Credit: Jefferson Awards for Public Service --- Volunteer guardian ad litem Janet 'Jan' Watford and her husband Jim at the Jefferson Awards for Public Service gala in Washington, D.C. Original Photo Credit: Jefferson Awards for Public Service --- Volunteer guardian ad litem Janet 'Jan' Watford's certificate from the Jefferson Awards for Public Service gala in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations and thank you to Jan, whose hard work and dedication to children are an inspiration to everyone. To view additional photographs from the gala event, visit the official Jefferson Awards gallery.

Volunteers Generously Help Local Families

The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program and Child Advocates II, Inc. frequently work with volunteers, community supporters and staff to provide resources to families in need in our community.

We would like to extend special thanks to the following individuals for their recent donations in support of a family in Sopchoppy, Florida.

  • Keith Baxter
  • Kitty Chiles
  • Martha Chumbler
  • Jane Dallet
  • Jamezetta Horne
  • Carolyn Horwich
  • Mattie Johnson
  • Ann Leftwich
  • Kristen Olson
  • Kimberly Ritchie
  • Gene Wagner

In addition to thoroughly furnishing the household — with items including beds, clothing, dining room furniture, dishes, dressers, household and kitchen items, lamps, linens, silverware, sofas and a television — sufficient items were received that some were donated to another family in need.

We are fortunate enough to have the support of many generous volunteers and supporters, but the outpouring of assistance provided to these families was truly outstanding. Thank you!

Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Wins Family Champion Award

Congratulations to volunteer guardian ad litem Karen Ish who was nominated for and won the Children's Home Society of Florida Family Champion award.

Ish, along with recipients from other organizations, accepted the award during a ceremony held on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 9:30 AM at the Thomasville Road Baptist Church.

When informing Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Circuit Director Deborah Moore of Ish's achievement, Trauma Therapist Katie Klütz with the Children's Home Society of Florida referred to Ish as a "superstar volunteer" and we are very proud of her work.

The Children's Home Society considers several attributes when nominating individuals for the Family Champion award. In their words, family champions…

  • believe that children need families that will love, heal, and nurture them;
  • know that our team is made up of equal and distinct partners committed to communication, support, encouragement and mutual respect; and
  • demonstrate that we are working to strengthen families during challenging times so children can grow up in safe, healthy environments.

Without volunteers like Karen Ish, we would not be able to meet our mission. Thank you to Children's Home Society for recognizing Ish's achievements.

Photographs from the 2013 School Supply Drive

We would like to thank everyone who participated in this year's school supply drive.

Essential items such as notebooks, paper, pencils, erasers, crayons and backpacks were collected at local Farmers and Merchants Bank locations, which serves as our annual collection partner.

FMB Assistant Branch Manager Patti S. Evans passed along two photographs taken from drop off locations. You can view them below.

Original Photo Credit: gal2.org/Farmers and Merchants Bank --- Results of our 2013 School Supply Drive at a Farmers and Merchants Bank drop off location on Mahan Drive in Tallahassee, Florida.

Original Photo Credit: gal2.org/Farmers and Merchants Bank --- Results of our 2013 School Supply Drive at a Farmers and Merchants Bank drop off location on Monroe Street in Tallahassee, Florida.

Thank you to everyone who donated supplies and to Farmers and Merchants Bank.

New Events: Continuing Education Training

We regularly host a variety of events to provide community outreach, raise awareness of our program, recruit new volunteers, fund raise and furnish training to our volunteer guardians ad litem. The following continuing education events have been recently added to our calendar.

New Events, Continuing Education and Website Updates

We regularly host a variety of events to provide community outreach, raise awareness of our program, recruit new volunteers, fund raise and furnish training to our volunteer guardians ad litem. The following events have been recently added to our calendar.

In addition, we have made several updates to the Current Volunteers resource page.

Website and Information Updates Now Online

Having the most current and correct information available to our volunteers, supporters and staff is very important to us. We have recently made a number of updates to various pages on our website. A listing of the modified pages and sections is presented below.

You can find out about all updates, news and events by subscribing to our blog RSS feed, subscribing to The Guardian email newsletter or following us on Twitter.

Kudos: Jim Anderson

I want to give kudos to Jim Anderson who extended himself to do courtesy visits for guardian ad litem youth placed in Jacksonville, Florida in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. He has been available to assist and provide a much needed service as many of our youth are placed in the Jacksonville area.

As a favor, Jim once met with one such youth before she moved to begin college. He was able to recognize what an extraordinary youth she is in just one hour. He provided vital information on her status to the child advocacy coordinator in Tallahassee.

He also took the initiative to find out what resources will be available to her once she begins college and when she ages out of foster care, as well as offering to help fill in the gaps. Jim Anderson is clearly an enthusiastic and committed guardian ad litem!

Original Photo Credit: WoodleyWonderworks --- thank you note for every language ('thank you' written in various languages)
Update
2013-08-11: corrected author to Caitlyn Kio.

In Print: GAL Appreciation Day in Tallahassee Woman Magazine

On Saturday, June 15, 2013, a photographer with Tallahassee Woman magazine came to our Guardian ad Litem Appreciation Day event to highlight it for their readers. Those images are now available in the latest issue of Tallahassee Woman in the "Around Town" section.

Hosted by CAII and our program, GAL Appreciation Day provides an annual opportunity for the local guardian ad litem community to get together with their families to socialize, have fun and recognize the exemplary work of our volunteers, community supporters and staff.

You can read the August/September 2013 issue of Tallahassee Woman online or pick up a copy around town. Guardian ad Litem Appreciation Day is featured on Page 56, an image of which is presented below.

You can also read our event report and browse our photo set from the day's festivities.

Thank you to Tallahassee Woman magazine for featuring our program and our wonderful volunteers with their readers!

Page 56 of Tallahassee Woman mazagine, August/September 2013