TAVARES -- Nearly 20 volunteers and several employees gathered to unveil a new sign at the Lake County office of the Guardian ad Litem Program, located at 418 W. Alfred St. in Tavares, on Monday, Sept. 14. Guardian ad Litem is a state and county funded organization that primarily relies upon volunteers to help abused and neglected children whose cases are involved in the court system.
“As people drive or walk down Alfred Street, they will now undoubtedly notice a huge new red, white and blue sign marking our downtown offices,” said Marcia Hilty, Circuit Director of the 5th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. “We are extremely thankful for all of those who helped make us more visible so we can better serve the Lake County community.”
The sign was made possible thanks to a generous donation from Steve Stephenson of Lykins Signtek in Naples, Florida, the Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation and the Lake County Board of County Commissioners.
Pictured in the photo are: Bill Gregg, Mike Walizer, Pat Lee, Mary Huhn, Liz Maglio, Gabriele Umbel, Bonnie Whetter, Dan Lapp, Pattie Downer, Pat Geistler, Lou Brown, Shay-Anne Razaire, Sid Grow, Bob Buckert, Judy Zebehazy, Sandy Pack, Nellie Green, Marguerite Totka, Liz Ketchel, Connie McMaster, Marcia Hilty, Barbara Clark, Leila Chacko and Jennifer Bohning.
Around 1,400 children in Lake, Sumter, Marion, Hernando and Citrus counties have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment or neglect. Research has shown that when a child whose case is being heard in dependency court is assigned to a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, they spend less time in foster care and do better in school.
To volunteer for the Guardian ad Litem program, participants must be aged 21 years or older, complete the pre-service training program, be cleared of any serious criminal history via a level II criminal background check and complete 30 hours of pre-service training. On average, volunteers spend 5-10 hours a month on a case, and most cases last 10 months. Volunteers work as part of a team, including a volunteer supervisor and program attorney.
To find out upcoming events and training opportunities in your area, visit www.guardianadlitem5.org or call Diana Hollwedel at 352-812-6971 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.