An anecdote in support of Guardian ad Litem by: Jack Levine – 4Generations Institute

This past week I had the honor to host a group of 30 teenagers from Miami in guiding them on a tour of the State Capitol in Tallahassee.

These teens, all of whom are or have been foster children/youth, were on a week-long tour of Florida college campuses, sponsored by Educate Tomorrow – as part of that organization’s mission to mentor young people in achieving success academically, emotionally and economically.

Educate Tomorrow administers the Positive Pathways/Florida Reach Network which I serve as a founding member.

As I was engaging with the students, introducing them to some special guest speakers, I was eager to ask a few about their connection with a guardian ad litem as part of their foster care experiences.

All three of the youth I spoke with personally gave glowing accounts of how important their guardian was in making them feel important and cared for in preparation for their court hearings.

One young woman said “My guardian was always there for me to explain what was next in a very confusing and scary world of strangers.”

A young man shared “I was always afraid until I met my guardian. He was one of the first men I ever met who listened to me instead of just bossing me around.”

Yet another teen girl explained “The way things were for me was nothing but anger and unfairness until my guardian showed up with her “we’re gonna make things right” attitude. She made this frightened kid feel special.  And when she spoke, my judge listened with both ears!””

I am so pleased to share these words of authentic endorsement of a program I have had the honor to advocate for throughout its 38 year history of achievement.

I’m aware of your dedication to this partnership. That work is so valuable and sincerely admired.

I view the staff at the state office, led by Alan Abramowitz and his colleagues, as setting the standard for visionary leadership and accountable program oversight.

I know almost all of the Circuit Directors and many staff members through my advocacy travels and training conference sessions.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting hundreds of GAL volunteers (who I call time philanthropists) as they labor with love and devotion to justice for the young people who need their wisdom, guidance and powerful advocacy.

And, I am impressed with the creative work of the GAL-affiliated non-profit organizations whose philanthropic and public outreach activities are so vital in support of the mission to represent abused, neglected and abandoned children and recognize community leadership.

As a non-partisan public policy advocate with diverse interests children, youth, families and elders, I am so pleased to keep in touch with you.

Please take a look at The Cherokee Grandfather’s Lesson parable below as I believe it exemplifies the attitude and values of the GAL program system-wide.

I’m attaching two group photos of the energetic visiting Miami youth to give you a glimpse of their beaming faces and positive can do spirit!


The Cherokee Grandfather’s Lesson

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.  He said, “My beloved grandson, the battle inside every person is between two wolves.”

“One wolf is Evil. It is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, pessimism and negativity.

The other wolf is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, compassion, optimism and faith.”

The grandson thought for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee gently grasped the boy’s shoulder, looked deeply into his eyes, and replied, “The one who wins is the one you feed.”