Included among the over 300 attendees were Circuit Director Deborah Moore and volunteer guardian ad litem and pro bono attorney advocate James A. Kole.
Kole was present to be recognized as one of twelve individuals nominated for the inaugural Glenn J. Winuk Humanitarian Service Award.
The award was created by Holland & Knight to honor a New York-based attorney, volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT) who lost his life during the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. It is presented to "a local hero who has shown sacrificial service for the benefit of others."
The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program nominated James Kole for his outstanding work, dedication and service.
In his nine years as a guardian ad litem volunteer, Kole has represented twenty children in cases assigned to him and provided hundreds of additional hours in pro bono attorney services.
Former Governor Bob Martinez was on hand for the ceremony and took time to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of each of the twelve nominees. In the end, Leon County Emergency Medical Services Deputy Chief Malcolm Kemp was selected as the winner.
Serving as an EMT for thirty-three years, Kemp helped establish the Honor Flight Tallahassee program, which recently transported nearly eighty veterans to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
You can see the ceremony program and read the nomination of Kole below. Congratulations to James Kole, Malcolm Kemp and all of the other nominees!
The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program nominates James A. Kole for the Glenn J. Winuk Humanitarian Service Award. Mr. Kole became a guardian ad litem in 2004 after completing an intensive 30 hour training course. Since then, Mr. Kole has been a constant for our program and in the lives of 20 guardian ad litem children including the two children he currently supports.
He understands the importance of continuity and stability for children in the child welfare system and continues to provide quality advocacy for every child until the case is closed. Mr. Kole visits his guardian ad litem children in their foster home, relative placement or in the biological home and is present for each court hearing.
Mr. Kole is conscientious and provides the best possible advocacy for every child he represents. The guardian ad litem children's best interest is a priority for Mr. Kole. He never hesitates to be their voice and stand up for them. Every one of the 20 children has been truly impacted by his unwavering support.
A few months ago, Mr. Kole was instrumental in preventing a disruption for a young child. With only weeks away from finishing the school year, the caregiver asked to have the child moved to another placement. The child was already experiencing challenges in school and leaving the school early would have resulted in not only the child missing out on important school activities with classmates but there was a good chance she would be held back a year.
Mr. Kole understands the negative impact of multiple moves for a child in foster care particularly on the child's education. He met with the caregiver and the caregiver agreed to keep the child in the home until the end of the school year. In addition, the child avoided trauma of leaving siblings and a familiar environment. He was truly successful at representing the child's best interest and being the child's voice.
Mr. Kole shares a common vision with all of us in the Guardian ad Litem Program that all children deserve a safe, caring and permanent home. He is a dedicated guardian ad litem advocate and we are fortunate to have him on our team. We are grateful for his continued commitment and devotion. We hope you will consider Mr. Kole for the Glenn J. Winuk Humanitarian Service Award.