Become a Volunteer Guardian Ad Litem in Allendale!

Last year, I ran an informative guest post from the South Carolina Guardian ad Litem program. Due to some positive feedback that was received, I am happy that they requested to run another article. There is an upcoming training event for Allendale and Hampton Counties, and are in need of more volunteers.

Thanks to Tracee Auman for contributing this post. You can also follow this program via Twitter (@GALvolunteersSC). 

Recent events in the news have directed the nation’s attention to the subject of child sexual abuse.  It is difficult for us to imagine the mentality of someone who could hurt a child in this way.  We feel angry yet at the same time we sometimes feel powerless to make a difference. During the holidays we want to think about happy children anticipating what Santa will bring not anxious children dreading what a trusted adult might do to them.  While you may feel powerless now, there is a way you can be a powerful voice for an abused or neglected child in 2012: Become a volunteer Guardian ad Litem (GAL).  GALs are specially trained members of the community who are court appointed to serve children who enter the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) protection.

In December 2010, one South Carolina GAL celebrated the adoption of a young man who had been sexually abused by a family member. The teenager had experienced a long, heart-breaking struggle. Throughout the process that eventually made him available for adoption, it was his GAL who was the one constant in his life.  Caseworkers and foster homes changed but not the Guardian ad Litem.  This holiday season that one-time struggle is in the young man’s rear view mirror as he focuses on getting his driver’s license and celebrating the first year anniversary with his new family. His former GAL has moved on to helping other children to have safe and permanent homes.  As you consider your gift list this year, consider giving the gift of time and advocacy to a child.  It will not cost you much, but the benefits will last a lifetime.

You can help Allendale County children find safe, permanent homes by becoming a volunteer Guardian ad Litem. The next free, 30 hour training starts January 23, 2012. Call Jan Bellinger at 803-625-2450 for more information on how you can be the voice of an abused or neglected child.

The Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem Program is a member of National CASA. www.nationalcasa.org

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