Thanks to Cherie Walker, Public Awareness Supervisor from the South Carolina Guardian ad Litem program, for writing this guest post. You can learn more about this program by visiting their website or by calling the statewide number (800-277-0113).
A Different Way to Make a Difference
Have you ever worried who cares about the children who have been abused or neglected in Allendale County? What about the children who are now in foster care? Well, there is a group of people in Allendale County who make a difference for these children. These people are called Guardians ad Litem.
Guardians ad Litem are ordinary people who volunteer a few hours a month to make a difference for abused and neglected children. In 2010, nine volunteers made a difference in the lives of 37 children in Allendale County. One of those children was Yolanda Sanders.
Yolanda entered foster care when she was 13 years old. Being a teenager in foster care has its own challenges. "I moved to 10 different places in the last 5 years," says Yolanda. "It was horrible; I hated to move. It seemed like I moved every three months. It was hard for me to make friends, and when I did, I ended up moving. Having to start over in all those new schools, I couldn't get what I needed to finish high school. So I just went and got my GED."
But through all the moves, one person was always there for Yolanda: her Guardian ad Litem, Jan Bellinger. "Ms. Jan has been a part of my life since the first month I was in care. She helped me when I got frustrated, and didn't want to talk. There were so many people coming in and out of my life. Other people where walking out, or giving up on me. But Ms. Jan was always very nice and willing. She didn't try to force me not to feel what I was feeling."
What would Yolanda say to someone who was thinking of becoming a Guardian ad Litem? "Do it, because you'll love it! You'll meet some great kids, with great talents. They just need that extra person to speak up for them, because they can't speak up for themselves. I think that Guardians ad Litem are very special, loving people."
If you would like to learn more about the Guardian ad Litem program, call the Allendale County office at (803) 625-2450 or visit www.allendale.scgal.org. You can also stay connected with the program through Facebook.com/GALVolunteersSC or Twitter @GALvolunteersSC.