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Spotlight on a Volunteer and Board Member: Beth Ayers
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"If I look at the mass I will never act. If I look at the one, I will." I hope that someone reading this will be able to look at the "one" child who is in the unique position in his or her life to need you for the unique qualities you can bring to bear. After all, "if not us, who? And if not now, when?" (Hillel the Elder) 

One morning I was awakened by a plea on the radio. The voice said that the NC Guardian ad Litem Program was in need of volunteers to represent the interests of abused and neglected children in court. Realizing the need, but not really knowing what would be involved, I threw myself into the Guardian ad Litem training and soon thereafter took my first tentative steps as a Guardian ad Litem to "my" first child. 

In the two years since, I have had the honor to get to know and represent several unique and special children in court. Somehow, at the time of writing this report, I am advocating for 7 children. This is not to frighten anyone away from the program for fear that it is too time consuming, because most GALs only take one or two children’s cases at a time and there is no pressure to take on more than you can manage. It is to say that it is very difficult for me to say no when I know that there is an abused or neglected child who needs me. 

Some people I have talked to about the GAL program express worry that becoming involved in cases of abuse and neglect might be "too sad". This is the unavoidable nature of the work. The fact is that whether or not we like to see it, abuse and neglect actually happens in our community. And as a result, the children who are harmed need all of the support they can get in order to heal themselves and go on to become the best people they can be. 

Along with the sadness we encounter as GALs, though, one of the striking things we also find is inspirational resilience and strength. We have a chance to get to know people we would otherwise never meet in our "normal" lives and we can draw much from becoming involved with a diverse range of people who are outside our regular sphere. 

For those who fear they are not up to the challenge, I would say that you can rise to the level of making a contribution to seeing that these children receive all services available to improve their well-being. We GALs have fabulous support from our wonderful Program Assistant, GAL Program Supervisors and the extraordinary GAL Attorney Advocates who (figuratively!) hold our hands in court and help us prepare properly - and understand what will be expected of us, in addition to the always smiling Naeime Livingston who somehow manages to keep us all on track. 

There is another fabulous resource to GALs and mostly "our" children, which is lesser known; the Friends of Wake County Guardian ad Litem (Friends). The Friends raise funds to augment the lives of children in foster care as the funding source of last resort for things like meeting emergency basic needs, providing computers for our kids, backpacks stocked with school supplies so "our" children are prepared to start the new school year, send children to camps to enrich their summer, and a "Guardian Angel" holiday program to collect gifts for "our" children, etc. The all volunteer nature of the Friends and its great works inspired me to become actively involved on the Board of Directors and to help with the grant writing function to work to keep the group solvent. 

Thank you Beth for all you do for children and for horses as we had one of you sweet ones featured above too!


Friends of Wake County Guardian ad Litem Volunteers
2014_Board

Officers: Liza Weidle (President),  Jordan Samuel (Treasurer), 
Linda Sturdivant (VP), Beth McNally (Secretary).

Board Members: Beth Ayers, Dick Hurley, and Janison Dillon

Advisory Board: Babs Wagner, Catherine Joyner, Fred Ames, Lane Tracey. Jason Mahoney, and Kate Hinkle


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Spotlight on a Volunteer: Babs Wagner
Babs Wagner, Friends of Wake GAL board member and volunteer for almost two decades was named "Tarheel of the Week" for Dec. 15, 2013. (picture on left courtesy of N&O)

 “Being a GAL has truly been the most purposeful thing I've done, second only to raising my four children.” 

"Babs is the epitome of a nurturing and giving spirit. Our community has benefited by her generosity and advocacy,” said Naeime Livingston, district administrator for the Wake GAL program. 




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Christmas County Fair
 
Friends of Wake GAL Projects

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Guardian Angel Tree Holiday Project: With the help of 100s of volunteers and generous sponsors, we are able to provide holiday gifts to abused, neglected and homeless children in care. In 2013, we set a record! 1,114 benefited from this special project that was made possible through $160,000 worth of in-kind donations from donors and sponsors.


Summer Camp Project
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Last summer, 47 at-risk children had the chance to be a kid again at camp. Some of the children experienced opportunities to learn life skills and receive special tutoring in academics. 

Special Needs Grant: We provide one-time assistance to families and children in order to meet specific needs including needed dental care, bedding and heat for a home.

Computers for Kids:

In 2013, more than 40 computers were given to children who were struggling with their academics because they didn't have access to computers in their homes.  The Friends partners with Teaming for Technology, an organization within the United Way of the Greater Triangle to provide a computer with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office installed, a keyboard with mouse, a printer and a flash drive, as well as anti-virus and anti-malware software, Microsoft Student with Encarta and Microsoft Math, as well as a variety of software utilities.     


Support for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) training
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 In 2013,  81 Guardians ad Litem received special training that included food and gifts from our Kappa Alpha Theta partners. 
Next training class is planned for April 2014.

 
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