The Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, has received a $17,000 grant to sustain ongoing support for children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned, from a local chapter of the United Way.
The larger share of the grant from the United Way of Charlotte County, worth $10,000, will go to the children’s needs program, which pays for things that more fortunate kids often take for granted, including birthday parties, movie tickets, registration fees for youth sports leagues and more.
The remaining $7,000 will go toward recruiting, training and supporting additional guardians ad litem in the Fort Myers area. Juvenile guardians ad litem are court-designated volunteers, who represent the best interests of a child who lives in foster care or another temporary placement as they navigate court hearings, school challenges and the child welfare system.
United Way of Charlotte County aims to break the cycle of poverty by bringing together local agencies, corporations, donors, volunteers and government to create lasting social change. It strategically invests in, partners with, and mobilizes local community partners to solve the most complex social issues. The United Way chapter’s funded partners include 18 local agencies currently. The Guardian ad Litem Foundation’s mission is ensuring that all children in Southwest Florida have a voice as they navigate the judicial, education and child welfare systems.
Angie Matthiessen, executive director of the United Way of Charlotte County, said the foundation’s work is crucial to helping disadvantaged kids develop “resilience that can last a lifetime. And by filling the financial gap for those childhood pleasures many of us take for granted, like a birthday party or summer camp, we are adding positive experiences and memories that can help refill the child’s bucket, offsetting the trauma they have faced.”