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

New Book Club Event Plus A New Community Supporter

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.

New Community Supporter

The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program and Child Advocates II (CAII) work together to build partnerships with individuals, businesses and organizations in the Big Bend Region.

Without the assistance provided by our CAII Partners CAII Partner and community supporters, ensuring children have a court-appointed volunteer guardian ad litem, legal assistance and financial resources would be extremely difficult.

The following company was recently added to Community Supporters under Other Businesses.

Bedzzz Express

We thank Bedzzz Express and all of our partners and supporters for their generous contributions to children in our community.

In Print: Guardian ad Litem Honors Dorothy Binger

On Thursday, June 25, 2015, the Tallahassee Democrat published an article written by Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal about our outstanding volunteer Dorothy "Dot" Binger.

Binger was recently presented with a lifetime achievement award at this year's annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Reception.

The article is presented below in case you missed it. Thank you to the Democrat for sharing our program with their readers.

Guardian ad Litem honors Dorothy Binger
by Sara Blumenthal

Thursday, June 25, 2015
Tallahassee Democrat
Chronicle Section

Recently the Guardian ad Litem program held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Event. The program and its nonprofit Child Advocates II recognized 350 local volunteer Guardians ad Litem and the astounding work they accomplished during the last year in advocating for abused and neglected children.

If you asked anyone around here for an example of a person who has changed their community for the better, they would tell you to just look at Ms. Dot.

Dorothy Binger, known far and wide as just Ms. Dot, lives and breathes civic service. And for over 25 years she has lived and breathed the Guardian ad Litem program. She has not only been the advocate for over 50 children and is currently advocating for 3 children, she heads up our circuit's volunteer advisory committee, mentors and is always willing to step in whenever the program needs her.

Ms. Dot, an educator and who was one of the first employees of Tallahassee Community College, Has more energy and enthusiasm than anyone I know. Many of times I ask how she does it. Hard work was something she learned early growing up as part of a large family on a farm in rural Florida. She puts that hard work to good use by providing exceptional advocacy for the children assigned to her.

The child welfare was not a new arena for her when she joined the program in 1989. She had already opened her home to two foster children in 1966 and had shown the teenage girls what home could be. They flourished and now have families of their own. She wants all families and children to thrive.

One particular case she was the advocate for seven siblings. She first tried to help the mother who had mental health issues. When it became clear she was not going to be able to care for her children, it was because of Ms. Dot that 6 of the children were able to be adopted by and aunt and stay together. The aunt attributes the children's successes in school and transitioning to Ms. Dot. She was an educational advocate before educational advocacy existed. She fought for these kids. When the youngest had medical issues and was placed two hours away, Ms. Dot would not be deterred. She would drive to visit her and even played Santa.

Most of Tallahassee knows Ms. Dot. Her contribution to the Tallahassee community is common knowledge. Besides being one of the founding members of the PACE program, she has been honored as a Trailblazer, one of Florida's Top Mentors and has had a TCC scholarship created in her honor for children who have been a part of the child welfare system.

For Ms. Dot, it isn't about the recognition. It is about the mission. It is about making sure every child has a voice. About making sure every child has someone in their corner. About making sure every child has a safe and permanent home where they thrive.

She is and always has been for the child.

It seems only fitting that we establish the Ms. Dot Binger Award for recognition of lifetime achievement in child advocacy as everyone here strives to be just like Ms. Dot.

I am honored to present our first ever Ms. Dot Binger Award to our incomparable Ms. Dot.

The Guardian ad Litem program has been serving Florida's children for 35 years. It gives a voice to abused and neglected children and ensures their best interest is heard and served. The Tallahassee office advocates for over 470 children. For more information, please visit www.gal2.org or call 606-1213.

Akerman Tallahassee Give Back Day Raises $4,738 for Children

Akerman LLP Tallahassee staff present Circuit Director Deborah Moore with a check and household items

On Monday, June 1, 2015, community supporter Akerman LLP held their second annual Give Back Day in support of the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association and guardian ad litem programs like ours across the county.

Akerman's Give Back campaign was established in 2014 as the first nationwide collaboration between National CASA and a law firm. Through this partnership, Akerman provides staff support and funds to guardian ad litem and "organizations that share Akerman's philanthropic focus on education and youth development."

Locally, the Akerman Tallahassee office invited Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Circuit Director Deborah Moore to take part in Monday's festivities, with proceeds going to Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) and our program.

view the Akerman LLP Give Back Days 2015 photograph album

Akerman's twelfth floor offices were easy to find as their staff had decorated the door with a representation of the Leon County Court Annex and "Champions for Children" superhero-like characters flying above. Office Administrator Juli Burch showed Moore around and introduced her to the staff, some of whom were dressed rather eccentrically.

The reason? Akerman staff held two amusing contents to raise additional funds for CAII. The first had the gentlemen take part in a "Wacky Tie" competition, the winner of which was sporting a brightly-colored flower motif. The second had all staff vote for the co-worker they wanted most to see dressed as a clown for the day. A good sport about his selection, Office Managing Partner Bruce Platt was present in full clown costume and makeup.

Platt and the Akerman staff next presented Moore with a giant check and an assortment of brand new items including bed sheets and comforters, clothes hangers, dishware, glassware and cleaning products. The $4,178 balance — $4,738 less $560 in household items — will be split between two of our projects: Beyond the Basics and First Beginnings.

Thank you to Akerman LLP and the entire staff at their Tallahassee office for their generous contributions and support of abused, neglected and abandoned children in the community.

Guardian ad Litem Program and Child Advocates II Recognize Volunteers at Annual Appreciation Event

On Thursday, May 7, 2015, Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) and the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program hosted our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Reception.

This fun event provides an 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.

Our appreciation day was held at the Holy Mother of God Greek Orthodox Church banquet hall. At the entrance, volunteers welcomed arriving guests with free raffle tickets and also offered for sale T-shirts designed by CAII volunteers.

As guests mingled, they were able to choose from an assortment of beverages provided by Trak Engineering, Inc. and enjoy the Cuban-themed decorations and snacks. Before long, CAII volunteers served dinner catered by Anne and Carlos Pla's Cuban Grill.

After dinner, Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal and CAII Board President Brian Sealey gave away a raffle prize, a process that would be repeated throughout the event. Circuit Director Deborah Moore then joined Sealey on stage to start the program by welcoming the attendees and introducing a few special guests in the audience.

view the GAL Appreciation Day 2015 photograph album

Following Moore's welcoming remarks, a succession of individuals came up to speak and offer their perspectives. The speakers included Moore's mentee and youth supporter Brian Williams, a young girl who read a letter she composed to her guardian ad litem Lisa, Second Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Charles A. Francis, Second Judicial Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, Wakulla County Judge Jill C. Walker and special guest speaker Zackary Gibson, Director and Chief Child Advocate for the Florida Office of Adoption and Child Protection.

Sealey and Moore next began the presentation of awards, highlighting volunteers, teams and community supporters for extraordinary service. Different individuals came up to speak about the recipients before announcing them and presenting the award. It was an extremely positive and emotional experience for those in attendance, listening to stories of the difference that our volunteers make to children in the community.

The Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Reception is a recognition and celebration of each and every one of our outstanding volunteers and staff. We sincerely thank them for their service.

Special thanks to this year's award recipients.

  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Dorothy "Dot" Binger
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Denise Dennis
  • George Thompson Training Award
  • Christine Gornik
  • Volunteer Team Assistants
  • Maria Augustyniak
  • Kathleen Cole
  • Mattie Johnson
  • Janice Little
  • Lisa Peerson
  • Janet Watford
  • Stuart Zirin
  • Volunteer Office Assistant
  • Judy Maynor
  • Circuit Team Award
  • Carolyn DeVita
  • Barbara Donaldson
  • Lorraine Donovan-Lepanto
  • Kristine Lamont
  • Kimberly Nester
  • Emily Pritchard
  • Twenty or More Years of Service
  • Kelly Bennett
  • Dorothy "Dot" Binger
  • Martha "Marti" Chumbler
  • Scott Kent
  • Diane Molitaris
  • Jessie Moseley
  • Jennifer Stump-Ayotte

Additional thanks to Child Advocates II, organizers of our appreciation event.

  • CAII Board of Directors
  • Brian Sealey, President
  • Omega Wynn, Vice President
  • CAII Board Members
  • Yvonne Jones
  • David July
  • Kristine Lamont
  • Rhonda MacLeod
  • Leigh Merritt
  • Dana Powell
  • CAII Board Associate Members
  • Katherine Blyth
  • Tricia Bryan
  • Michelle Johnson
  • Caityln Roth
  • Neil Rambana
  • Linda Saladin-Adams
  • Laura Seaton
  • CAII Board Consulting Members
  • Sara Blumenthal
  • Deborah Moore

Finally, special thanks to the community supporters of the event.