Agnes, July GAL Volunteer of the Month
Initially becoming involved with the Guardian ad Litem Program over six years ago, Agnes, first heard about the vital work of GAL volunteers while reading the Neighbors for Neighbors section of The Miami Herald. The article focused on a volunteer and his fulfilling experience as a Guardian and after reading it Agnes felt compelled to get involved. “The rest is history,” states Agnes.
As a resident of the Miami area for 14 years, the GAL Program has given Agnes an opportunity to give back to the community while fulfilling a critical role to BE A VOICE for our community’s neediest members – our children. The experience has been “extremely enriching for me,” says Agnes, “and has validated the strength of the mother-child bonding relationship.”
While every case and each child Agnes has encountered has been unique, there are commonalities among them that stand out to her. The love, the dedication and the commitment from each and every mother towards their children – regardless of race, educational background, or ethnic origin – is a fundamental aspect of human nature. In the cases with which she has been involved, Agnes comments, “The mother’s never made the case about them personally, but made it about the children.”
When asked about a case that stands out in Agnes’s memory, she tells the story of a mother in her early twenties, who had three children each from a different father. As is often the case with the cyclical nature of abuse, the mother had been sexually abused as a child and now her children were in trouble as prey of domestic violence. As someone who had experience with ‘the system,’ the mother was incredibly leery of GAL involvement in the case.
“When I was finally able to sit down with her and have a heart-to-heart, she realized I was there as a neutral representative for the best interest of the child, and not ‘the system’,” recalls Agnes. The outcome could not have been better for both the mother and the children. Through advocacy, parental classes and appropriate court determination, the three children were able to safely remain with the mother. Further, the mother was able to advance her earning power and ability to care for her children by completing a technical education course to enhance her career.
Judges, attorneys, child welfare workers and parents overwhelmingly report that volunteers make a difference with the children they serve*, and this is just one case where a GAL volunteer has made a real difference.
Agnes, thank you for your past and future commitment to BE A VOICE for the abused, abandoned and neglected children of Miami-Dade County and congratulations on being selected as the July GAL Volunteer of the Month.
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*Dr. Pat Litzelfelner (2003). CASA Consumer Satisfaction Survey. University of Kentucky.