In Print: Guardian ad Litem — A Chance to Make a Difference

On Sunday, November 10, 2013, an article written by guardian ad litem volunteer Leigh Merritt was published in the Active Living section of the Tallahassee Democrat.

Merritt is a long-time supporter of the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. Starting her relationship with the program in 2000 as a volunteer, Merritt joined our staff in 2002 and served as assistant circuit director from 2006 to 2012.

Although missed since her departure for the Office of the State Courts Administrator, Merritt continues to be a valuable part of our program as a volunteer and supporter.

Thank you to Leigh Merritt for her public outreach and to the Tallahassee Democrat for sharing our program with their readers.

The article is presented below in case you missed it.

Guardian ad Litem offers a chance to make a difference
by Leigh Merritt

Sunday, November 10, 2013
Tallahassee Democrat
Active Living

Staying involved with the community is essential for many of us. The Guardian ad Litem program is proud to have a wide age range of volunteers.

Stuart Zirin, GAL Volunteer, shares his experience: "Volunteering with the Guardian ad Litem Program has been one of the most fulfilling activities of my life. Making a positive difference in children's lives makes me feel a sense of great satisfaction and accomplishment. As a retired person, rather than being idle and non-productive, the program has given me opportunities to remain active and socially engaged."

What is required? A 30-hour training is offered every month; home visits, family interviews and court appearances take about 8–10 hours a month — the average time commitment.

What support is offered? Peer Mentor is assigned to every new volunteer; there is a team approach with staff on each case; and there is an annual volunteer awards ceremony.

Volunteer Dot Binger has this to say of her experience with Guardian ad Litem: "When I began to think about retiring, I realized I had to continue being involved with the welfare of children and youth. After all, I had spent 45 years teaching young people. In 1989, I learned about the Guardian ad Litem Program and its only purpose — that of advocating for the best interest of abused and neglected children. That was it as far as I was concerned — where I need to be involved! The passion for doing this advocacy has remained with me for 24 years, and I find that retirement has a great purpose."

Volunteers Dot Binger and Leigh Merritt will be guests at Chaires/Dorothy C. Spence Community Center on November 26. Bring your questions and join us for lunch!

Next volunteer training begins Dec. 2. To apply, call 850-606-1218, or go to

Copyright © 2013, Tallahassee Democrat. All Rights Reserved.

Scan of Tallahassee Democrat article by Leigh Merritt, November 10, 2013

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