This year, the 31st Annual Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program Awards Banquet was once again held in Orlando on September 7, 2011. With our program’s first Executive Director, Angela Orkin (who currently works for Voices for Georgia’s Children), presenting as the keynote speaker for the evening, she reflected on how our organization has continued to grow and perservere as an essential component to having dependent children have a voice in court. This also marked the first GAL Banquet that our current Executive Director, Alan Abrawmowitz, has presided over at his position.
As for the rest of the evening, three individuals were recognized by our state office, both here in the 10th Circuit as well as statewide, for their efforts as child advocates at this event. We commend each of them for the hard work and dedication they have put in to the children that they have helped, as we couldn’t be prouder for having such fine examples of what it truly means to be a Guardian Ad Litem. They are as follows:
Our Community Advocate of the Year award for our circuit was awarded to Frank Satchel, who has been a public educator for 38 years, from teacher to superintendant. Now as City Manager of Mulberry, he has been a volunteer for four years. Working with the Program’s recruitment and retention committees, he has been extremely influential in the minority communities. This influence and commitment has helped us make substantial gain for recruitment in this area.
As Volunteer of the Year, J. Kemp Brinson, Esq. has served as both a Guardian Ad Litem and Attorney Ad Litem for many children. He has done exceptional work in the community helping to recruit more volunteers. A major accomplishment was being able to place three teenage brothers in the same home, who had been separated and spread out all over Florida. This dedicated volunteer was able to bring them back together as a sibling unit through his efforts.
Finally, our very own Tom Selander was honored as the Child’s Hero Employee Award recipient for the state of Florida’s GAL Program, which recognizes an employee who has performed specific actions related to advocacy for children and has gone above and beyond their day-to-day responsibilites. Tom not only supervises two counties, he also carries and maintains his own caseload. He has been the GAL Volunteer on a case for some time helping out a very troubled young girl, who has suffered much abuse and a failed adoption which brought on a roller coaster of placements and case management changes. Tom secured many therapeutic options that this young woman so deserved. he has been her voice, her advocate, and her guardian angel. Now at fifteen years of age, she will continue to receive the apprpirate level of therapeutic care and has a transition plan to maintain her through her adult years.
Congratulations to our Florida Guardian Ad Litem Awards banquet recipients! We are very proud of you! Thanks for being such a shining example of all of the hard work and effort our volunteers and staff put in for our dependent children in our community each and every day!