A lady in my book club volunteers as a Guardian Ad Litem here in Florence County. We've been talking about it off and on for months now, and I finally decided to take the plunge and have her put me in touch with the program director. It looks like I'm going to become a GAL this summer!
A Guardian Ad Litem is an advocate for children who have been abused or neglected and are in the custody of the state. Most are in temporary foster homes until their birth family either get it together so they can reclaim them, or else a permanent adoptive home can be found. In the state of South Carolina, minors are not present at court hearings that determine their fate, and a GAL can be there to testify on their behalf so that the judge can take their wishes into account. Serving as a volunteer means meeting with the child (or children, if it's a sibling group) at least once a month, writing a monthly report on their welfare, and writing a report and appearing in court whenever a hearing is scheduled. Beyond those basics, you can be as involved as you want to be and have time for. There will be 30 hours of training as a prerequisite which will start in July.
I'm super excited about this! I have an Associate's degree in Human Services and have always had a strong interest in social welfare. I've been looking for an opportunity to volunteer some time to a worthy cause, and I would love it if I could eventually find a new (paid) job in the field of Human Services. This opportunity to become a GAL will not only be a wonderful way to volunteer, but will give me new skills, new experiences, and new contacts. A win-win all around.
Here's a link to the program is anyone is interested in reading more about it: