Volunteer News, Events & Training

Members of the 5th Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Educational Advocacy Team complete extra training to become Certified Educational Surrogates. A big thanks goes out to Jim Husted, FDLRS, and Kathy Ruiz, Marion County Schools for providing the training
We are pleased to announce that Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director of the Statewide Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, has been reappointed by Governor Rick Scott for a new term. Alan has done an amazing job the past six years in leading the GAL Program. Please join me in congratulating Alan and wishing him well.

Sylvia Simmons, Hernando County Senior Attorney, received the Collective Empowerment Award at the 3rd Annual Disabilities Conference. Sylvia has been with the GAL program for 10 years and is a jewel of an attorney and child advocate. 

She is pictured with Rashel Johnson, Supervising Attorney, and Executive Director, Alan Abramowitz.
Click on the title below to read a fantastic article about the GAL program in "Ocala's Good Life" Magazine.  The article is on page 22.  Enjoy!!! 

It is with great pleasure that I announce our newest attorney, Gillian Batay-Csorba from Thunder Bay, Ontario. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Kings College (Halifax, Nova Scotia) & her law degree from Florida Coastal. We have a unique find in Gillian, in that she has her Masters’ Degree from the University of Michigan in Social Work. She was a special prosecutor at the State Attorney’s office where she hit the ground running! We are fortunate to have her skills, background and passion here in the 5th Circuit.
Rashel N. Johnson – Supervising Attorney
Fifth Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program

A beautiful letter from one of our Guardians Ad Litem requesting to be a transporter

To Whom it May Concern:

As a former Mentoring Supervisor with the oldest, Christian Youth Mentoring Organization in the Greater Pittsburgh Region, Family Guidance; I can speak first-hand on the benefits of being able to transport children with whom I need to build a relationship.

In order to properly advocate for a specific child, the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) needs to be very creative in establishing a trusting friendship as a positive, adult role-model within a relatively short time. Most often these kids have been damaged by more than one adult in their life and it can be difficult to break through the defenses they have built around themselves.

When the GAL and the child participate in social activities together, it allows the child to think of the GAL in different terms as opposed to “just another person who is going to ask me a lot of questions that I don’t want to answer.”  

Even as adults, we meet at local cafés for conversation over a cup of coffee. Why would we expect traumatized children to tell us their true feelings if they don’t even understand who we are, and why we have been placed in their life?

In order to become the most effective Guardian Ad Litem possible, I seek approval to be able to transport children to participate in extracurricular activities which will provide the enhancement necessary to foster a more trusting relationship.


Debbie Dilliplaine

It is with extreme pride that the Hernando County Guardian ad Litem office announces that our very own CAM Cindy Wolaver has been honored to receive the BARBRA SESSA AWARD from all eligible personnel throughout the entire State of Florida !!! Read below to see and agree why Cindy so richly deserves this tremendous honor.
Barbra Sessa Award: Cindy Wolaver, CAM I, Circuit 5, Ocala. Cindy has served the GALP in a number of capacities, starting as a volunteer with the GALP for four years prior to becoming employed. Upon receipt of a case at shelter, Cindy immediately began working on collecting whatever was left of the children's belongings. The children had recently lost their mother and the father had passed away at the time of shelter. With the assistance of law enforcement, and after an emergency hearing she prompted, Cindy was able to get into the home and retrieve the belongings of the children¬ including an urn containing the ashes of a family member. Cindy planned the Home Going Services of a Father in another Dependency action. It was very important that the children had a proper service for their father-especially after incurring such a devastating loss. Cindy prepared all of the food, which was donated by Winn-Dixie, for the family after the service. In another case, although Cindy was not appointed, she assisted a young adult--whom had previously aged out of the foster care system-retrieve the necessary documentation to enroll into a Tribe and receive the benefits associated with the membership status. Cindy is inspirational to all in Circuit 5. Like many of us, Cindy has had her share of obstacles in life; however, it has never infringed upon her love for the GALP and her commitment to her job. With remarkable grace, she epitomizes Barbra’s spirit and advocacy of going above and beyond in all aspects of her position.

Share by: