On Wednesday, October 23, 2013, twenty new volunteers — consisting of graduates from our July, August, September and October training classes — were sworn in as guardians ad litem at the Leon County Courthouse in downtown Tallahassee.
The ceremony began with Deborah Moore who welcomed, thanked and congratulated the volunteers. She introduced the members of her staff in attendance as well as the current volunteers who came to show their support.
Next to thank the volunteers and speak was the Honorable Judge George S. Reynolds III. During his brief talk, Judge Reynolds drew a comparison between guardians ad litem and judges as normal citizens who sometimes don a (metaphorical or real) robe and take on additional duties.
Judge Reynolds also discussed the process from the perspective of the bench, highlighting the importance, value and essential nature of guardians ad litem to the judicial processes to which they contribute.
Next, special guest Florida Senator William J. "Bill" Montford took a few minutes to speak to the volunteers and their guests. A former teacher, assistant principal, principal and county commissioner, Senator Montford has experience with our mission from various angles and expressed his appreciation to the volunteers.
Following Senator Montford's remarks, the volunteers approached the bench and formed a semi-circle in front of Judge Reynolds, Senator Montford and the circuit judge presiding over the swearing in ceremony, the Honorable Judge Martin Fitzpatrick.
While the Honorable Judge Karen Gievers has performed our guardian ad litem swearing in ceremonies since July 2012, she was presiding over a family court case hearing and was unable to attend. Fortunately, Judge Fitzpatrick was available and had the opportunity to address the volunteers prior to administering the oath.
After meeting and speaking to the volunteers, Judge Fitzpatrick asked them to raise their right hands and repeat the oath as administered. Finishing the ceremony, Judge Fitzpatrick congratulated the new guardians ad litem and the courtroom broke into applause.
Concluding the event, Judge Fitzpatrick, Judge Reynolds and Senator Montford posed for photographs with the volunteers and thanked them individually.
In attendance at the ceremony for WCTV Eyewitness News, Reporter Garin Flowers took the opportunity to speak to several volunteers and staff before interviewing Senator Montford and newly sworn in volunteer guardian ad litem Joanna Winters on camera.
Thank you to Senator Montford and Legislative Assistant Taylor Gilbert for attending and welcoming our newest volunteers; Judge Fitzpatrick and Judge Reynolds for being able to participate at the last minute; WCTV and Garin Flowers for sharing our mission with their viewers; and our friends at Alaska CASA who on Twitter welcomed our new volunteers to the CASA family.
We are very proud of and thankful for all of our volunteers and the work that they do.
Congratulations to our newest volunteer guardians ad litem!
Are you interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer guardian ad litem?
Do you know someone who would make a great volunteer advocate for children?