E-Advocator
 
  Insider News for the
6th Circuit
Guardian ad Litem
July  2016
In This Issue
Save These Dates!
In Service Events 



  WHAT       EXACTLY IS  VIRTUAL SCHOOL?
IN-SERVICE FOR GALS TO GET LOTS OF QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
 WHEN:Thursday, July 28, 2016 from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM
 WHERE:ICOT CENTER:  14102 - 58th Street North, Clearwater, FL 33760

     Celeste Sanchez 
       District Relations
      Manager Presents
   Florida Virtual School

Many of our dependent children experience academic difficulties and ultimately the solution is VIRTUAL SCHOOL.  However, obtaining records and interacting with teachers, has been a challenge.

GALS, this in-service will answer all of your questions.Please come and join us to learn from one of Florida's Virtual School experts.
SEE YOU IN SCHOOL EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Are you ready to be the first GALs trained on our new Internet Based
System OPTIMA?
Come and learn how to
use this new and exciting
program that is designed
to help enhance our
operations and our
outcomes for children.

Thursday July 28, 2016 6:00PM -7:30PM
Rasmussen College (Room 211)
8661 Citizens Drive
New Port Richey, FL 34654
   
Wednesday August 10
4:00-5:30 PM
Pasco Hernando State   College (Room A-230)
      36727 Blanton Rd
    Dade City, FL 33523

In this training you will learn how to:
Input your home visit notes, input and receive new documents, review your mail, update placement and relative information, see your court dates.
Computers will be provided, however, you may bring your own tablet/laptop too.

Space is limited-please RSVP to Jessica.Falanga@gal.fl.gov
Or your Child Advocacy Manager.



Other Fun Events 

Holidays in July
A day of bowling, lunch and a gift for every child.
When: Sat, July 23
Time: 11a.m - 2p.m.
Where
Sunrise Bowling Lanes
6393 MLK Jr St N, St Petersburg 
For Pinellas residents
RSVP by: July 16th
RSVP here, including number of adults/children and child's age/sex (for gift)
Space is limited! 
Sponsored by: 
St Petersburg Bar Foundation & the Young Lawyers Section
~
SuperHero 5K, Walk & Stroller Roll-
EarlyBird Registration Available Now!
We have some exciting things planned this year including: team prizes, prizes for best dressed, a uniform collection drive for children in care, and the ability to raise funds from your couch if you don't want to run with us!
When: Sat, October 15
Where: Nolan's Pub, 230 Main Street, Safety Harbor

Brown Bag Lunches

Pinellas

Friday, August 19th at 11.30am. ICOT Center, 14102 58th St, Clearwater 
Pasco
NPR: Friday, August 19th at noon. Health Department, 10841
Little Rd, Bldg B, NPR
Dade City: Friday, August 12th at noon. Dade City GAL office 
For the Children

Car Seats for Infants.
The Turley Center at 807 N. Myrtle Avenue, Clearwater offers classes that teach parents/grandparents how to correctly install and use car seats for babies 0-2 years of age.
The training involves:
 - 1½ hour class with instructional video 
- instruction on car seat installation and strap sizing.
Eligibility : the parents or children must use the Turley Center for their healthcare needs, or they must reside in the Clearwater Community surrounding the Turley Center.
Cost : $20 (includes a car seat) 
Register : Call (800) 229-2273. 
 
Foundation for Sustainable Families Presents
Free Basic Haircuts and Trims for Back to School
Sunday, July 24th
10 AM-6PM
8479 9th Street N
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
*Assistance with School Supplies and Clothing
Please contact Brandice to reserve your space! Brandice@susfamservices
.com
www,sustainablefamilies.orgM
ust be accompanied by a Parent.  Child must be enrolled in Pre-K-12th grade.
Limited Spaces, By appointment only



Stars of the Month 
Volunteer Stars are sponsored by the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay
  
Pinellas
Susan O'Connell
Les Davis
Simon Bois
John Appel
Carol Allen 
Beverly Finn
Bill & Jean Cooley
Mary Ellen Ditrinco
Clare McCorrall
Dawn Schwirtz
Linda Dodson

Pasco  
Theresa Hurst
Alicia Guy
Pascal Fruge
Jean Walder
Carol Schmidt 
Carolyn Touchton



Like us on Facebook
Welcome new GALs

Allison Belanger
Virginia Castromayor-Legrand
James Clegg
Lisa Crandall
Lisa Ellsworth
Jennifer Falla
Jessica Fondren
Diane Gilroy
Lynn Greco
Denise Hart
Paula Hill
Robert Hill
Don Hudson
James Hunt
Irvin Joseph
Robin Lobianco
Michael Luik
Jacqueline Mcwhorter
Wendy Mullins
Richard Nichol
Dana Noble
Mary Oslin
Kimberly Pack
Yolaine Poulin
Kerri Shaver
Martha Shibley
Andrea Snipes
Patricia Turner
 
New Staff/Staff Changes
 
Hugo Rodriquez-  Please join me in welcoming Hugo Rodriquez, who started OPS with us.  He is a recently sworn into the bar attorney, who  was a volunteer with the program, who is very
Interested in serving in public service work.  His long term goal is to secure an attorney position but  will be working as a CAM, gradually taking over Wendy Giantonio's cases.   He has a heart for children and families, and is  positive addition to our team.
Brigette Mauger.
As you know, Joe Baraket's last day was June 9.
Brigette comes to GAL  after serving as an additions case manager in New Jersey for 6 years, and 5 years as a case manager for YFA.
She has a BS in Psychology and an AA in Addictions counseling. We welcome her many years of experience in working with families and her knowledge of child welfare/services in Pasco county and how that will enhance our advocacy.
Congratulations to  Larnelle Scott, who will be our new Pasco Community Outreach Coordinator (recruiter)
We are finally closing down on interviews to replace her and thank her for her  and dedication to the children and volunteers by seeing her cases through hiring her replacement.
Larnelle brings a strong commitment to the program having worked as a CAM in Pasco since 2014. She has varied and outstanding experience in working with the community
at Charter High School as an enrollment specialist, within the church community,  and also in the private sector in various capacities,having 10 year experience in project management and employee training/development.     She has her Masters in Project Management from George Washington University.  We are excited to add her to our recruitment/training team
and really looking forward to some great growth in Pasco, with her serving in this new and exciting role!
Now the sad news:
Kristi Theise left GAL at the end of June.   She shares the following note with each of you:
"I wanted to let each of you know that due to family obligations, I recently left the GAL Program and have moved to Vermont.   I have truly enjoyed my time as your Program Manager and have been so impressed with the dedication of each of the volunteers.    This was a difficult decision to make.    My professional career started at a CASA program in Vermont, and I have served in many capacities in child welfare.  I truly believe in the role each of you play, which is critical in enhancing the lives of children, as well as ensuring children are safe.  Pasco GAL Program will always have a special place in my heart and I wish you all the best.   Until my replacement is hired, please don't hesitate to reach out to Andrea Watson, Senior Child Advocacy Manager, or Donna Rasmussen, Circuit Director, for assistance.   Take care and keep up the great work for our Pasco kids."
 
 


Great Peeps to Tweet! 

Lisa Holland
who managed to write her JR and get it in on time while she was at the beach!
Russell McLeod who provided a beautiful birthday cake in court for his child's 15th birthday. Other children in court that day were invited to share cake, too. 
Teri Little who is working hard on her first TPR report. 
Peggy Burns who wrote an important status report to update the court.  
Marleen Struys who has such a good relationship with her child, that the group home staff, his school, and even his therapist call her for assistance, because of their relationship.
Kristi Anson is a life saver for visiting children for me in Pasco County. She doesn't 'just visit' she gets involved with the children and takes them out too!  
Susan Keller, Linda Zolper, Kelly Macko, Teresa Ceresani, Lisa Richards and Jennifer Quinn for helping visit kids of mine this month that do not have GALS assigned. I really appreciate your help and willingness to jump in and see kids whenever needed!
Elizabeth Samuelson and Molly Camp for spending countless hours prepping for a TPR trial; next step, the adoption!
Norm Bungard for stepping up and taking on a new case where the former GAL is presently unavailable.
Kerri Shaver for her outstanding reports on her very first case!
Tina Hohlfeld for her thorough information on the educational status of her children.
Bob Hightower who travels to Springhill and to Tampa checking on his children.
Bill Meyer for taking on yet another case.
Louise Miliotes for her ongoing visits to children.
Judy Geier for her ongoing assistance in every way to her CAM!
Jo and Dick Nichols who remain so dedicated to helping a child they have represented for many years!
Charlotte Braziel for taking on another case and providing detailed visit reports.
Craig Mousseau for ongoing representation of a little boy who is now free for adoption.
The Greek Orthodox Church Sewing Club that provides the wonderful Bears in a Bag for our children.  We appreciate your hard work!
Jean Walder for always researching and advocating for her child's best interest and even driving more than 300 miles to ensure her child has settled into her new placement.
Pat Smith for brainstorming on different ways to approach a difficult caregiver in order to be the best advocate she can be!
Polly Eskew, Cindy Rudd, Carl Baker, Fran Scerbo and Vinnie Derosa for manning the craft table at Reunification Day! 
Carol Schmidt for driving to Gainesville area to complete a HV when the children were recently moved to a new placement.
Carolyn Touchton for her ongoing efforts in assisting a family achieve reunification.
Welcome to new volunteer's AnnMarie and Barbra as they have jumped right in and got on board.
Nancy and Doug Dupuis for always being so diligent and really fighting for what is best for our kiddo's.
Jerri Cook for doing courtesy visits this summer for one of our snow birds.
Toni Pauline is a star who does it all: she has two cases, does courtesy visits, coaches new GALs and comes in regularly to file!
Courtesy visitor Lisa Richards goes above and beyond taking not just her child but other girls from the group home shopping, out to eat and to special events.
 N ew GAL Lisa Crandall for making sure two kids with significant developmental delays are finally getting their evaluations! Lisa is even accompanying the caregiver to the appointments.
Fran Scerbo for being tenacious and NEVER giving up, making sure her teen gets all the services, clothing, equipment and other items she needs.
Collette Burgess and Haig Pakhchanian for donating their generous time helping with filing in the office as our "filing fairies".
Cindy Rudd for her excellent and steadfast advocacy in court for her child to remain in her current placement. Great job!!
Linda Zolper for  organizing and attending the Meet Up Information Session at Panera Bread and George Sherman for coming out to show his support.  Both GALS were able to answer questions the prospective volunteers had from their own experiences!  Thanks!
Congratulations to Mary Ellen Ditrinco for seeing a case through from start to the child's adoption! I know this was very special to you.
Thank you to Lillian McCabe for always willing to visit cases when others are 'not sure' about the situation. You are one tough cookie and are very much appreciated.
Thank you to Sandy Buchanan for stepping in and taking over a case while the GAL you are mentoring is on vacation.
Welcome back to Kelly Macko and thank you for taking on a new case!

Director's Directions
By 6th Circuit Director,
Donna Rasmussen

I would like to honor some recently passed, valued child advocates from our 6th Circuit.

Merle Allshouse Merle joined the GAL Program as  certified volunteer in May 2009.  He was retired when he came to GAL office, but locally, his association was tied to Eckerd College as the Director, Academy of Senior Professionals.  He was a professor, a writer, had a PHD from Yale, an MA from Yale and BA from DePauw and many other honorary degrees and fellowships.  During his tenure as GAL he represented 12 children and impacted all of them in a positive way.  He was one of the members of our original 6th Circuit Volunteer Task Force group.  His quick wit, ability to get along with people from all walks of live, and strong advocacy will be greatly missed.

Lou Briggs ( see article below)

Marty Franklin Marty was certified as a Guardian ad Litem in 1999.  Marty enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and spent four years in the service.  He graduated from the City of College of New York with a BEE degree.  He worked for Honeywell for over 30 years. Marty always had a heart for children.  He coached 13-15 year olds in Babe Ruth Baseball, he coached 9 year olds in basketball and coached youth soccer.  In 1986 he went on a church sponsored mission trip to Appalachia with high school students. Marty represented at least 30 children during his time as a GAL.  He was a bicycle enthusiast and took several trips to Europe on biking treks seeing many different countries. Each summer I would ask him where are  you going this  year?
Marty is greatly missed.
 
Cathy Larkin- Richards Cathy was certified as a Guardian ad Litem in April, 2004.   Cathy diligently represented children, work ing  mainly dependency cases, but also assist ed  with courtesy visitations for other counties.  The very first case that Cathy had returned to care . When asked if she would take the case back, without hesitation she answered, "Yes, I love those kids."   The three children still call ed  her "grandma" and ran to her saying they missed her when she visited them.   Cathy developed  a close relationship with all the children she represents.  She worked with  a teenager who kept running away. When the girl was found and Cathy told her she knew where she had been and what she was doing, the teenager was shocked and asked her How do you know that?  Cathy responded she knew because she kept checking and following up on her.  Cathy could not rest without knowing "her kids" were safe.   A young lady who aged out, continued to think of Cathy as her "grandma" until Cathy's passing.   Cathy was always recruiting.  One time, Cathy shared the story of trying to recruit the 911 ambulance driver, as she was being transported to the hospital!  Cathy hosted the BBL's each month in Pinellas and was a master volunteer, and mentor for new volunteers.   She always had a positive attitude and could see the funny or positive side in any situation.   She was especially effective because she was encouraging and worked well with case managers.   During her time at GAL she advocated for over 50 children.

Steve Russell Steve came to the GAL Program in 2007, and joined as a staff attorney in 2008, working in both Pinellas and Pasco county.   In March 31, 2010, he resigned to accomplish his famous and treacherous hike with his dogs of the Appalachian Trail, from April-November to raise awareness for child abuse.  The GAL Program, was very happy to have him return to staff from 2011, until 2013.  During his time as a volunteer with our program, before and after retirement, Steve was appointed to 30 children.  During Steve's time as a staff attorney, he advocated for about 200 children.  Steve had a heart for service, and for helping children.  When he joined the GAL program he said life had been pretty good for him and he counted his many blessings that included his education, his health, his accomplishments but most of all his children, his grandchildren, and his step children.  He said that he wanted to help some children "be able to say from this point forward, Life has been pretty good for me".  Steve accomplished his goal, as well as he greatly enhanced the lives of his co workers along the way, with his humor and random acts of kindness.

Lois Sears  Lois was a program attorney, a Supervising Attorney, and managed the 6th Circuit Fostering Independence Project, which involved recruiting attorneys and law students to serve as volunteers for teens.  She also supervised the Transitioning Youth Program staff, during her tenure  with the GAL Program from 2001 to 2009.  She was always calm in a crisis, and valued the volunteers.  She was not only intelligent but always  professional. She loved to write, was proud of her children, enjoyed art, music, travel and was a amateur drummer.  During her years at the GAL office, she represented hundreds of children.   She was a steady light in our office who made us all better by knowing her.
   
The 6th
Circuit Vital Statistics:
As of May 2016  
 
Children in Dependency   
2394(>) 
Of those without a GAL
387    (<)
Case Volunteers
732 (<)
Transportation Approved Volunteers
306(>)
GAL Best Practices

TEAMWORK:                  

Just a reminder that at the GAL Program we work as a team.  The GAL, the CAM and the Child's Best Interest Attorney work together to achieve the best possible outcome on every case.  Never hesitate to call your CAM to communicate any concerns or issues.


EDUCATION:                  

Be sure to check if any of your children are participating in Summer Bridge or any other educational program during the summer.  If  your children are in an educational program, please check on the child's progress and report back to your CAM.

 

SUPPLIES:                  

A reminder to GALS:  there are books, toys, and some food items at the ICOT Center GAL office.   If you are in the area or if you are attending an in-service, be sure to pick up some things for your children. 

 

Legal Forum
In the Sixth Judicial Circuit we are fortunate to be part of a program know as the Early Childhood Court (Baby Court).   In Pinellas, it has been in effect a little over a year and it is run by the Honorable Judge Kimberly Todd and in Pasco (Dade City) it is run by the Honorable Judge Lynn Tepper. It is a completely voluntary program with wrap around services designed to fast track a family through the system due to the intensity of the services.   The focus of Early Childhood Baby Court is the CHILD.
There is a team that works with the family through the duration of the case.The team consists of an Assistant State Attorney, a case manager, a peer mentor who has been through some aspect of the dependency system (each parent is assigned one), a CPP counselor,a Guardian ad Litem, a Child's Best Interest Attorney, an Attorney for each parent and a Community Coordinator. Each of these people come to every hearing if at all possible, as well as the foster parent or the custodian, and the child.  There is a small group of people that work in Early Childhood Court so the players within the system remain as constant as possible.The goal is to try to keep as many people the same within this small group of cases so that there is a familiarity within the families that come through the program.  There is one case manager assigned to Early Child Court and right now Project Hope provides the services so there is minimal turnover for the parents.  There are currently three therapist assigned to Project Hope to work with the program.   The peer mentors assist the parents tremendously with employment and housing searches, as well as providing emotional support and transportation.
In Pinellas, in order for a case to be selected for Early Childhood Court, the child  removed must be from 0-3 years of age, Project Hope agrees to accept the case, the child must be placed in Pinellas to be able to work the services  and the parents must voluntarily agree to work the program.  In Pinellas, there are only 10 openings available.
In Pasco, in order for a case to be selected for Early Childhood Court, the child removed must be from 0-3 of age, but Pasco tries to select a child no more than 2 ½ years old (to prevent the child from ageing out too soon).it is preferred that the child be placed in Pasco County, but a Pasco child placed in another county does not prevent the child from being eligible for ECC services, and the parents must voluntarily agree to work the program. In Pasco, there are only 10 openings available. *
Another important part of Early Childhood Court is  visitation and contact. The therapy provided in Early Childhood Court is called Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP). It is essential that there be consistent and frequent contact between the parent and the child for this therapy to be effective. The therapist will usually meet with the parent three times a week and eventually these will include the child to help the bonding process between the child and the parent.  This program encourages the placement, whether it is foster or relative/non - relative , to be involved with providing visits,  phone calls, mentoring and providing a support to the parent. It encourages co-parenting so that the impact to the child from the removal is as little as possible.  Frequent visitation is ordered and daily contact is recommended. The contact can be telephonic in the form of facetime or even a video.    In these cases, the first placement is intended to the only placement.
Along with the intensity of the services, at the beginning there are more frequent staffing's, to ensure that the case is progressing as expected.  They should occur every 7 - 15 days.   Sometimes they may occur more frequently depending on whether there is something significant occurring.  At the very beginning of the case, there may be more frequent Court hearings. In Pinellas, Early Childhood Court cases are heardevery 2 weeks on a Friday Calendar. The case may be heard once a month or every other month. There may be times when it will be heard twice a month.  The cases usually last about 30 minutes. The progress of the parents is reviewed at every hearing as well as the status of the child. The child is always discussed first because the focus of this Court is the child.
In Pasco, Early Childhood Court cases are scheduled to be heard once a month on a Wednesday afternoon Calendar.  However, when necessary, an ECC case may be heard twice a month.  Although cases are usually scheduled 30 minutes apart, no actual hearing time is limited to 30 minutes-the hearing will last for as long as is needed.  The progress of the parents is reviewed at every hearing as well as the status of the child.  The child is always discussed first because the focus of this Court is the child.*
Although Early Childhood Court is still relatively new in Pinellas, the hope is that the intensity of the services provided to the family and the support system built for them as a result of taking part in this program will provide a foundation for them to raise their child. That the parent(s) build on that foundation once they successfully complete the program and avoid returning to the system.
(*Special thanks to Sr. CBIA Wanda Davis for the Pasco ECC information.)

 ~  Mariella Ollson, Esquire
Senior Child's Best Interest Attorney
Clearwater Office

Recruitment Corner
As we continue our efforts to spread the word about our need for Guardians and to become more visible in the community, we have been looking at churches as another place to recruit volunteers.  Eckerd has a committee to reach out to Faith Based organizations which include churches, synagogues and other places of worship to find foster and adoptive families.  They have partnered with the Heart Gallery to have pictures displayed in churches as well as presentations to the churches.  Guardian ad Litem has been invited to be part of their Faith Based Champions for Children Initiative.  Even though there are some people who would like to foster or adopt someday, they may not be ready just yet and some may not ever be ready.  However, as another way to help children in the Dependency System, they could be made aware of the Guardian ad Litem Program as an alternative way to make a difference to children.   
They have a list of churches and ask them to get involved.  There are several ways to get involved as a Faith Based Champion including asking them to pray for a child to find a Forever Home, displaying a portrait of a child in the Heart Gallery, hosting a Foster or Adoptive parent orientation, hosting a Heart Gallery  Presentation or even an Information Session about Guardian ad Litem.  If you are a member of a church that may be interested in this initiative please send an email to  Karen.malo@gal.fl.gov with the name of your church and a contact person and I will pass the information on to the committee for follow up.  
~ Karen Malo, 
Pinellas County Community 
Outreach Coordinator

GAL Media Corner

With summer almost upon us, the weather is getting warmer and it will soon be time to think of activities for our children in dependency to take part in over the Summer. The city of Saint Petersburg has many recreational facilities with rec centers located central to neighborhoods. Check out the city of Saint Pete's Parks & Rec website to find out more information. Remember that many city funded scholarships & stipends are available for qualified youth on a first come, first serve basis. Now is the time to start planning with parents & caregivers!

This Month's online training recommendation comes  fr om the Quality Parenting Initiative online training archives.   The lect ure topic is Reactive Attachment Disorder . Child psychiatrist, Dr. Neil Boris, walks you through the symptoms, causes & treatments of this attachment based disorder that many children in care are challenged with. Dr. Boris explains the "circle of security" that developing children need to help them develop healthy attachments. Take the quiz at the end of this informative training for 1.5 in-service hours.   Click here to start . This recommendation comes from veteran GAL Dawn Freijo. If you like this RAD training, you can find more just like it on a variety of different topics on the QPI website! Take a look!

Would you like to see your recommendation here on the Media Corner? Tell me what you have last seen, heard or read that has helped you sharpen your advocacy skills! Submit your recommendations to Daniella.Saiz@gal.fl.gov.  And remember, please keep submitting all your GAL In service hours in Pinellas to Daniella.Saiz@gal.fl.gov, and in Pasco to your CAM.
~ Daniella Saiz
Pasco GAL of the Month
East Pasco's June Guardian of the Month is LeAnn Kahl.  LeAnn has been a GAL since June 30, 2014.  Currently she has four fulltime cases and one courtesy case. She shows her commitment to her assigned children by driving to visit one case in Pinellas County rather than asking for a courtesy visit.  LeAnn was a long term substitute teacher for the Pasco county school system until she retired.  Le Ann spent a lot of time working in the Exceptional Student Education program (ESE) and was so good working with ESE children that she got involved in writing Individual Education Plans for students. She is a great resource to have in the Dade City GAL office because of her experience with ESE children and the paperwork connected with the program.  Her report writing skills have carried over to her court reports.  Recently she wrote her first TPR report, turned it in over a month early, and the BIA had few if any corrections to make on it.  In fact, the BIA wanted to use her report as an example of how to write a TPR report.  LeAnn is a dedicated, conscientious GAL volunteer, and is a pleasure to work with.
 
Jean McNary
Volunteer Team Leader
Dade City
Pinellas GALs of the Month
The first time I met Lorna "Lori" Cook I recognized inherent qualities that I thought would make her an extraordinary Guardian ad Litem.  A GAL since 2014, I can attest that my expectations were exceeded and she has become an excellent GAL.  Lori is currently advocating for five children, some of which are from different families.  She has dedicated herself unselfishly to advocate for the safety and well being of the children she has worked with.  Lori attends all staffings, court hearings, writes the Judicial Review reports, and maintains constant communication.  Lori is always accessible and responsive. Lori has shown skill in establishing relationships and rapports with children, caregivers, and parents.  She visits the children regularly and takes them into the community to further foster the bond between them and also to expose the children to experiences they have never had. Trips to the theater, zoo, and dinners out were some of the special times.  The reports that Lori submitted of these outings were as much full of joy in the fun that the children have had with Lori, but it was Lori's accounts that illustrated how much pleasure she has had in seeing how the children have been thriving.

Lori recently was instrumental in testifying in her first TPR Trial.  The trial lasted four days. Lori, using her vacation time so she would be at the trial as it kept being extended, was determined to be present, as her children knew she was their eyes, ears, and voice. The trial was successful. After the trial Lori has continued to advocate for the best outcome as the children proceed toward adoption. I believe that the children will remember the impact she has made on their lives forever.
 
Lori, thank you so much for your tireless work and the difference you have made for these children.  All that you have done is greatly appreciated and we are glad you have chosen to be a part of the Guardian ad Litem Program.

Haron Housman
Child Advocacy Manager

Self Care Tips

Guardians are exposed to many sad stories on a regular basis with their cases.  It can be a struggle to maintain a positive attitude as we do this work.  If we are not self aware, we can experience compassion fatigue which can have numerous negative impacts on out personal well being.  According to Dr. Charles Figley Compassion Fatigue is defined as "a state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper."(Source" Compassion Awareness Project" http://www.compassionfatigue.org/)
Whether you are a new GAL or have been doing this for years  anyone can experience  compassion fatigue.  New Guardians may be shocked and overwhelmed when they first get a case and those with more experience can slowly over time experience  symptoms such as depression, fatigue or physical ailments.   Just hearing about some of the abuse the children have endured is cause for anyone to feel bad for the children we serve but when that feeling takes over our life it is in our own best interest to address it.
We would not be involved with this type of work if we weren't caring people who want to help others.  However, when we are feeling that we are being affected on a personal level it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms Compassion Fatigue.  Once we recognize them we can take steps to ensure that we are taking care of ourselves.  There are various resources online on this topic and there are several  tests and questionnaires that can be taken to assess if you are experiencing the effects of caring too much.  Knowledge is power so I would encourage all of our GALs to educate yourselves on this very important topic.  Below is a link to a workshop presented  by The Center for Child Welfare at USF. 


~ Karen Malo, 
Pinellas Community Outreach 
Coordinator and Guardian ad Litem  
In Memory Of 
Lu Briggs
If hearts could cry, the Dade City GAL office would be flooded with tears. On May 11, 2016, we lost one of our former GALs, Lu Briggs, East Pasco's GAL of the Year in 2004. She was known in the community as "Pastor Lu" because she was an ordained Church of God minister. Lu retired at age 75, six years ago.  Well, she never really did retire. She would stop by the GAL office every few months to say "hello" and check on us to see how we were doing.  Lu continued to be active in the community assisting women at the local domestic violence and sexual abuse shelter.  She would go to court with them, providing support and sometimes testifying. At one time her church was set up as a visitation center for families.  Lu had a group of ladies who met at her home for support once a week. I had referred one of them to Lu when she called our office asking for a GAL.  It was a family court case.  I gave the young woman Lu's phone number saying, "We cannot help you, but I know a lady who might be able to." Lu told me this young Indian woman, who happened to be Hindu, came to her group and fit in beautifully. According to Lu's husband, Merle, she never charged anyone for her therapy sessions. The judges who respected and relied on her, the GAL office, the families she helped, and everyone who knew her, will miss her.  Her family requested that anyone who wants to make a donation in her name, give to her church or the Guardian ad Litem Program.  We are honored to have known her and gratified that she thought so much of us and the work we do.
~ Jean McNary
Dade City GAL Office

Poet's Corner
Sunshine
                                              Time for sunshine, beaches, lots of fun too.  School is out!
Children everywhere want a great summer and give out a shout.
But our children may not have such a great opportunity for fun.
It is often the child's GAL who steps up and gets the job done.
 
You transport, you create as much normalcy as you possibly can.
You interact with the children and you are their greatest fan.
Thank you Guardians one and all.  You are the real sunshine.
We are grateful to all of you.  You are Guardians so very fine.

~ Diana Aboussir

Street Beat.
Slicing & Dicing!

Evelien Still , Child Advocacy Manager TWO,  co- ordinated a very successful multi-week cooking class for  teens/p re-teens that we serve. This was a partnership with UF IFAS,  the SNAP nutrition program and Cooking Matters. The cla sses were held at a wonderful kitchen in the Child's Park Recreation Center in St. Pete.   Between 8-10  girls (ages 11-17)  were present each night and they all graduated with a certificate. The teacher Donna Sagan-Hortz, was very patient and the girls took to her immediately and  felt free to explore.   The girls learned about nutrition, slicing, dicing, safe knife handling, shopping for a meal for 4 under $10 cooking, frying, baking, cleaning, meal planning etc.   The last night of the classes  was the cook-off.    There were 2 winners who worked as a team  and thanks  to the  Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay , they each won an American Express gift card for $20.   If  the gir ls need letters of recommendations,  Donna Sagan-Hortz  will write them to be used for employment applications.   The GALP, with Evelien as the coordinator, will be   planning another class in Clearwater (this time) in October.

Pictured left:  Cooking teacher Donna Sagan-Hortz.







Above: A  hearty  chicken 
dinner.
Anniversaries

June
ONE Cali Swango Ralph Hakim
David Mcconnell Daniella Saiz-Calderon Sandra Kearney
Denise Reilly Denise Brooks NINE
Gala Badgley Gyda Depeppe Ann Worthley
Patrick Myers Janice Wells Christine Albuquerque
Russell Cowper Jim Hill Gary Worthley
Sarajane Seevers Marsha Gilbert Vicki Cuevas
Simon Bois Paul Alcocer TEN
TWO Stephen Davis Elyse Mcguire  Esq.
Audrey Whitehead Wendy Coughlin Joan Harris
Michele Lutrzykowski FIVE Vincent Rieger
Tina Hohlfeld Shari Pentecost THIRTEEN
THREE SIX Louise Miliotes
Elizabeth Hegseth Curtis L Edwards Phyllis Whitaker
Linda Paul Sharon Gretzula SEVENTEEN
Nicholas Wise SEVEN Collette Burgess
FOUR Julie Klavans TWENTY-EIGHT
Amanda Liddy EIGHT Albert Ferraro
Ann "Christy" Nichols Liliane Taskin

July

ONE
Alexandria Nicodemi
NINE
Leigh Freijo
Midhraid Torres
Catherine Badali-DiPaolo
Kathy Alshaye
Carlos Portillo
Heidi Joswig
Diane Harrell
Lynn Lemmon
TEN
Cher Lowther
David Neiswer, Esq
Donna Berman
Gerald Washington
Leann Kahl
ELEVEN
Rachel Alexander
Donna Schuldt
Niki Columbis
Wanja Chomba
THREE
TWELVE
Lesley Siemens
Pam Smoot
Ken Bernard
Susan Saenen
FOUR
EIGHTEEN
 Tayler Kent
Warren Swiger
Fran Abilock
Margaret Carrington
FIVE
TWO
Deb Frank
Charlotte Braziel
Samuel Lima
William Cooley
Travis Hadwin
Jennifer Butler
Jack Callahan, Esq
Janet Rossell
Gina Rothlein