Hello, my name is Liza and I am a hope dealer – a volunteer child advocate appointed by a judge to serve as a Guardian ad Litem. I am also searching for more caring advocates for our most vulnerable children – the ones a judge finds as having been abused, neglected or without someone to care for their most basic needs of shelter, food and clothing.
Please don’t fault a judge for ripping a child from a family home that is only known to most foster children as a feeling they have when surrounded by people who do their best to care for them. For most abused and neglected children, home doesn't have four walls or even a floor. Home is found in a smile of a loving adult who offers a spot next to them on a couch that may move a little due to roach infestation.
Honorable Judge Monica Bousman draws on the images from the “Wizard of Oz” to describe the experience children feel and how Guardians ad Litem (GALs) help:
A rainbow is beautiful to behold, but with rare exception, they are preceded by storms. While none of us would ever wish that any child suffer in any way, the reality is that all children do face storms and the children in AND court face unimaginable events and upheavals in their lives. But as GAsL, you are able to help children on their journey to make their way to get over the rainbow, through sadness, fear, disappointment and turmoil, to a better place where “the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” Wake County Honorable Judge Monica Bousman from her essay recognizing volunteers for April’s Guardian ad Litem Month.
Please don’t fault the attorneys who must rip through pages of seemingly endless court documents and use big words to tell a child, “You aren’t going home – ever.”
Attorney advocate Reginald O’Rourke always wears a smile to court and despite the long hours he sits before a judge for case after case and then just one more case before the end of the day, he makes the time to help a GAL know just how important it is to be the voice for a child in court.
Something magical happens between the time volunteers begin the GAL training and when they receive their first court appointment. The volunteer springs into action; self-doubt falls to the background and the volunteer rises to the solemn responsibility and challenge of being a child’s advocate. I am grateful to witness this process. I am grateful to witness how you overcome all sorts of obstacles to make a positive difference for children. Attorney advocate Reginald O’Rourke essay recognizing volunteers for April’s Guardian ad Litem Month.
Governor Pat McCrory issued a proclamation honoring volunteers for their work. I don’t know if he’s ever stepped into a courtroom to see the process, but as a businessman, he values the work we do as it translates into saving North Carolina taxpayers an estimated $11 MILLION. That number comes from having 4,824 Guardian ad Litem advocates serving 15,251 children in all 100 counties of North Carolina.
Bringing this blog post to a close, I hope you will consider volunteering. You won’t do it for the thanks from others. You will do it because of the sweet smile from a child who knows that you are the one who will be there when others walk out the door. The sweet smile of the child in the picture above taken so long ago who willing took my hand that day to live in my heart and home forever.
Traveling back to Judge Bousman and the images she drew from the “Wizard of Oz.”If I were Dorothy, I would click my ruby red slippers and pull the 624 foster children we have in Wake County to a home with loving people who will soothe their weary spirits and give them hope for a bright future.
Wishing each of you dear readers a day of peace and knowing that YOU made a difference!
Volunteer President, Friends of Wake Guardian ad Litem Program
Liza is the Faith Filter columnist for the Cary News. Her stories of faith and lives changed by trusting in God are published about four times a year.