For as long as I can remember, I have felt a need to help others. In high school, I became involved with the Durham Rescue Mission, which is a homeless shelter for women and children located in Durham, North Carolina. This organization does more than offer a warm place to stay and three meals a day; it provides families with a means to end the cycle of poverty. During my time as a volunteer, I witnessed firsthand how education, substance abuse classes, parenting courses and other programs provided the ground work for families to be successful.

A little over a year ago, I applied for a position with Children’s Home Society of Florida. The mission statement of CHS reminded me so much of The Durham Rescue Mission, which I was immediately drawn to. CHS is a special organization that works tirelessly to provide support for the children and families throughout the state. It seems like every week, I learn of a new cutting-edge program that CHS offers to better serve our communities. While my position as an Advancement and Data Services Specialist is one of the many pieces that holds CHS together, I often feel like I’m not doing enough to help.

All too often, I hear horrific stories of children who face abuse at the hands of their own family members. A few months ago, I was reading about a specific case where a Guardian ad Litem was mentioned in court proceedings. I immediately did an online search to find out more about what this position entailed. That same day, I filled out an application and started my involvement with the volunteer GAL program out of Osceola County. Guardian ad Litem are court-appointed advocates who focus on serving as the voice of the child, a voice which is separate from the child’s family members, foster care providers, attorneys or social workers.

I am passionate about many things, but my desire to help children will always be one of my top priorities. The knowledge and experience I gained as a volunteer with the Durham Rescue Mission altered the trajectory of my life. This experience ultimately led me to Children’s Home Society of Florida, which allows me to work for the greater good of others. Participating in the Guardian ad Litem program allows me to take yet another step forward in helping children who need it most. This role entails a new level of involvement which I expect to be rewarding, and very difficult. However, I am fully confident that every difficult case will allow me to further aid the children in which I have dedicated my life to serve.