Volunteers who can make a difference in a young person’s life are being sought by the local branch of a statewide agency.
Laurinburg resident Jeff Maidment, contact person for the Guardian ad Litem Services Division of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, said volunteers are needed to assist children who have no voice in their own affairs.
“A Guardian ad Litem is a trained community volunteer who is appointed by a district court judge to seek the best interests of abused and neglected children petitioned into the court system by the Department of Social Services,” Maidment said. “The volunteer investigates by making home visits and talking with the child’s parents, teachers, and social workers, and then independently reports their recommendations to the court.
“Guardian ad Litem volunteers provide a voice for abused and neglected children in every county in North Carolina.”
The Guardian ad Litem program is currently seeking volunteers to be the voice of a child in court.
“These children come from abused or neglected situations and have often been without proper food, running water, and other basic needs,” Maidment said.
“Volunteers work for the best interests of the children, and make recommendations based on their findings.”
Guardians must complete 25-hours of training, study a manual, and submit to a background check before being sworn in. There is no charge for the training.
“It is a great feeling to be able to make a positive change in a young person’s life by getting them into a safe, happy environment,” he said.
Wake County Guardian ad Litem volunteer Marcia Harris said her work is personally gratifying for the same reasons.
“The most rewarding aspect of being a GAL is knowing that I am using my time, effort, and skills to directly benefit children who cannot speak and advocate for themselves,” she said.
Harris recently witnessed a home visit in which two children were reunited with their mother for the first time in 18 months outside of a visitation room.
“I was so touched by this scene that it brought tears to my eyes,” Harris said.
Some 125-130 children are under the program, Maidment said, with about 50 percent becoming reunited with parents or other family members.
“For some of these children, it may be the only time they’ve ever had anyone fight for them in their lives,” Maidment said.
“If you have an interest in this program, please contact me at 266-4530 for more information.”
You can also find out more about the program by visiting their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ncGuardianAdLitem.