04/10/05 — Guardian ad Litem volunteers honored for work with youth

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Guardian ad Litem volunteers honored for work with youth

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 10, 2005 2:03 AM

Volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children in court in Wayne, Lenoir and Greene counties were honored Friday with an appreciation luncheon.

"I work with one of the most incredible bunches of volunteers," said Colleen Kosinski, the district supervisor for the Guardian ad Litem program.

When state Rep. Louis Pate, a Republican from Mount Olive, said he learned what the volunteers do, he said he "wouldn't have the heart to cut the program. It would be too terrible to comprehend. I'll go back to Raleigh to do the best job I can for our children where they have no one to advocate for them but you."

A total of 123 volunteers work with the children in the three-county district. But Mrs. Kosinski said more are needed because four cases have not been investigated.

Although the volunteers' job is frustrating because of the lack of resources and people problems, Mrs. Kosinski thanked them for "helping children become everything they deserve and achieving the potential within them." She said the volunteers do their jobs with dignity and respect in protecting the rights of children and their families.

Chief District Court Judge Joe Setzer said he once was a Guardian ad Litem volunteer but when he became a judge, he could no longer investigate the cases. But he thanked those who do.

Jane Volland, the state administrator of the Guardian ad Litem program, said 3,890 volunteers and 100 lawyers advocated for more than 15,600 children last year in North Carolina.

The volunteers worked almost 750,000 hours and saved the state almost $12 million, based on $16.05 per hour, according to a letter from Judge Ralph A. Walker, the director of the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

Mrs. Kosinski also thanked the district's lawyer advocates, Tim Finan of Goldsboro and George Jenkins of Kinston. She introduced her staff and presented Angela McDowell, the outgoing volunteer coordinator, a gift basket. She also thanked Outback Steakhouse, which donated the meals, and the servers, who donated their time.