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 April 2015 archive sorted chronologically with the newest at the top.

Five New Guardian ad Litem Volunteers Sworn In

On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, five new volunteers were sworn in as guardians ad litem at the Leon County Courthouse in Tallahassee.

The ceremony was presided over by the Honorable Karen Gievers, a dependency court judge who often officiates our volunteer swearing in events. Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal and Volunteer Trainer Christine Gornik were also on hand, as were two of our outstanding veteran volunteers Dorothy "Dot" Binger and Mattie Johnson.

view the Volunteers Sworn In 2015-04-22 photograph album

After a brief welcome and introduction by Blumenthal, Judge Gievers began by having the volunteers approach the bench. Addressing the group, Judge Gievers briefly discussed the process from her perspective, highlighting the importance, value and essential nature of guardians ad litem.

After speaking, Judge Gievers had the volunteers raise their right hands and repeat the oath as administered. Afterward, she took a few minutes to personally meet each individual and pose for photographs before moving on to her next judicial proceeding.

We are very proud of and thankful for all of our volunteers and the work that they do. Congratulations and welcome to our newest volunteer guardians ad litem!

Sweet Treats Raise Money at CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids

If you smelled something sweet in the air yesterday, it was not your imagination.

On Saturday, April 18, 2015, Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) hosted the second annual CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids fundraiser at the Leon High School cafeteria.

With proceeds benefiting the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program, CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids is a friendly competition for amateur and professional bakers and an opportunity for the public to raise money for our program by sampling the goods.

CAII volunteers arrived early in the morning to set up and receive the twenty-seven contestant entries. Official competition judges Keith Baxter of Kool Beanz Café and Joey Gans of Au Peche Mignon then went to work sampling each of the cupcakes and cookies. Although Baxter and Gans judged and made their choices independently, in the end the results from each were very similar.

view the CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids 2015 photograph album

Possibly eager to try the wide variety of baked goods available, guests started to arrive just after 1:00 PM and continued flowing in over the next hour. Free refreshments were available courtesy of CAII and Starbucks, whose iced coffee provided to be quite popular. In addition to the treats, guests were able learn about our program at an information table. The City of Tallahassee Utilities also staffed a table with freebies and tips on how to reduce energy costs.

Emcee Jeff Cameron of 97.9 FM ESPN Radio kicked off the presentation by welcoming everyone to the event, announcing the winners and thanking the sponsors and judges. CAII Board President Brian Sealey spoke to the crowd next and introduced the event's organizer, Kristine Lamont.

A member of the CAII Board and a volunteer guardian ad litem, Lamont is also a nominee for the 2015 Tallahassee Democrat Volunteer of the Year award.

Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Circuit Director Deborah Moore wrapped up with her own thanks and a recognition of how events such as this benefit local children. She also noted that Lamont is one of three outstanding guardians ad litem from our program being considered for the Democrat's volunteer honor this year.

After everyone had a chance to sample everything and mingle, it was time for the raffle drawing. The names of all contestants were placed into a jar and then randomly selected to receive one of several donated prizes. Lamont thanked everyone one last time and brought the event to a close.

CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids would not have been possible without the support of the community and the guests who came to sample the treats. Special thanks to all of our participants, winning contestants, sponsors, donors, judges and volunteers.

Contestants
  • Ava Alarco
  • Renee Baker
  • Katelyn Brown
  • Sara Graeber
  • Gail Hickman
  • Erin Jones
  • Sydni Jones
  • Dana Lachter-Rivera
  • Kristine Lamont
  • Shena Lefeavers
  • Rhonda MacLeod
  • John Marlow
  • Brenda Maynard
  • Lynda Moore
  • Samovidy Morris
  • Addison Nester
  • Jacob Nester
  • Krista Makayla Payne
  • Beau Peacock
  • Kerri Posey
  • Keira Powell
  • Matthew Rainey
  • Margaret Robertson
  • Bryce Sealey
  • Kaely Stephens
Overall Winners: Cupcakes
  • Renee Baker
    Amateur

  • Samovidy Morris
    High School Youth

  • Beau Peacock
    Middle School Youth

  • Ava Alarco
    Elementary School Youth

Overall Winners: Cookies
  • John Marlow
    Amateur

  • Erin Jones
    High School Youth

  • Keira Powell
    Elementary School Youth

Cupcake Winners by Level and Category
  • Amateur
  • Shena Lefeavers
    Twenty-One and Up

  • Renee Baker
    Filled

  • Brenda Maynard
    Nuts!

  • Sara Graeber
    Fruitilicious

  • Rhonda MacLeod
    Eat Your Vegetables

  • High School Youth
  • Samovidy Morris
    Fruitilicious

  • Middle School Youth
  • Beau Peacock
    Fruitilicious

  • Elementary School Youth
  • Ava Alarco
    Fruitilicious

Cookie Winners by Level and Category
  • Amateur
  • John Marlow
    Kitchen Sink

  • Kaely Stephens
    Nuts!

  • High School Youth
  • Erin Jones
    Chocolate

  • Elementary School Youth
  • Keira Powell
    Chocolate

Sponsors
In Kind Donors
Prize Donors
Volunteer Support
Logo: CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids
Update
2015-04-25: moved Starbucks from In Kind Donors to Sponsors at the silver level

In Print: Children and Their Champions Convene at the Capitol

WFSU

On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, WFSU News broadcast a story about Children's Week 2015 that included an interview with our Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal.

Blumenthal's portion of the segment, discussing the thirty-fifth anniversary of Florida's Guardian ad Litem Program and the importance of its mission, comes in the second half. Having heard Blumenthal in the piece, Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Executive Director Alan Abramowitz said that she "did great!"

A transcript of the piece is available below. You can also download an MP3 (1:53) of the audio.

Thank you to WFSU and Tom Flanigan for sharing our program with their listeners.

Children And Their Champions Convene At The Capitol
by Tom Flanigan

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
WFSU News

The yearly Children's Week at the Florida Capitol shifted into high gear on Tuesday. Literally hundreds of kids from all over the state jammed the courtyard between the old and new capitol buildings, the number of little people outside the halls of power significantly outnumbering the number of big people inside.

There was also a large number of children's advocacy grownups with booths in the courtyard. Like Jade Hatcher. She's education disabilities specialist with North Florida Child Development.

"We serve children ages zero to five in Madison, Wakulla, Liberty, Calhoun and Gulf counties," Hatcher said. "We provide comprehensive early child development services in all those five counties."

Occasionally, members of the legislature were seen wandering amongst the children and booths in the courtyard. Hatcher hoped what they were seeing and hearing would make an impression.

"Hopefully we can influence the legislators on how important early education is."

In some cases, though, education isn't enough. Sara Blumenthal is the volunteer recruiter for the Guardian Ad Litem program for Florida's Second Judicial Circuit.

"This is our thirty-fifth anniversary and for 35 years in the state of Florida we've been making sure that children who have been neglected or abused have voices in the court and voices in the community," Blumenthal explained. "And it's really important that we focus on the children who can't speak for themselves and don't really have someone who is going to speak out for them and need that extra advocate; that person who is going to make sure they have a safe and happy home."

Which, as nearly all child advocates readily attest, is the bare minimum that every kid needs and deserves.

New Events Including Theta Jam 2015 and a Supporter Update

New Events

We regularly host, sponsor and support a variety of events that provide community outreach, increase awareness of our program, help recruit new volunteers, raise funds and furnish training to our volunteer guardians ad litem. The following events were recently added to our calendar.

Supporter Update

One of our Cornerstone CAII Partners has a new name. Storage Center at SouthWood is now StorQuest Self Storage CAII Partner but offers the same services.

In addition to being a sponsor for the First Beginnings project, StorQuest Self Storage also donates funds to our program through the CAII GAL Referral Program.

Logo: StorQuest Self Storage

Representative Williams Joins CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids, New Event and a Photograph

Event Update

We are pleased to welcome Representative Alan B. Williams as special guest presenter and speaker at the upcoming CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids fundraiser on Saturday, April 18, 2015.

With proceeds benefiting the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program, CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids is a friendly competition for amateur and professional bakers and an opportunity for the public to raise money for our program by sampling the various goods.

The deadline to register as a baker is Friday, April 3, 2015 at 11:59 PM. Visit gal2.org/cupcake for complete details and online registration.

New Event

We regularly host, sponsor and support a variety of events that provide community outreach, increase awareness of our program, help recruit new volunteers, raise funds and furnish training to our volunteer guardians ad litem. The following event was recently added to our calendar.

Photograph

On Friday, March 27, 2015, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum hosted the Mayor's Summit on Children at the Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center.

Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Circuit Director Deborah Moore participated in the four-hour session and had the following photograph taken with Mayor Gillum.

Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Circuit Director Deborah Moore with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum at the Mayor's Summit on Children 2015 event on March 27, 2015