Lexington County residents Terry and Robbie Smith know the importance of helping children in need. As volunteers with the Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program, they and other volunteers provide a service to the abused and neglected children of the community by serving as a voice for those without one in the Family Court system.
Between the two of them, the Smiths have more than 50 years of experience as advocates for abused and neglected children. Although they both work outside of the home — Terry as a paralegal and Robbie as a maintenance foreman at a worldwide bakery — the Smiths feel it’s important to give back.
“We believe everyone should contribute to the community,” Terry said. “When we see news accounts of abuse or neglect, we cannot accept that this is happening to children without making an effort to help by volunteering as Guardians ad Litem.”
Guardian ad Litem advocates get to know the children and the adults in their lives. GAL volunteers also make recommendations to the court regarding what they feel to be in the child’s best interest as they try to find each a safe and permanent home. The Smiths know firsthand how their advocacy work has helped children.
“By sharing current professional opinions on child behavior and development regarding children in foster care being moved to multiple placements, we have been able to provide to the court valuable information needed to make rulings in the best interest of the child,” Robbie said.
Because of the commitment of Terry and Robbie and other GAL volunteers, children in Lexington County have advocates on their behalf. For the Smiths, this is volunteer work that leaves a place in your heart.
“Each child we have served has left a unique impression, but not one any more than the others. They all leave a strong impression,” Terry said.
If you are interested in learning more about the Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem Program, contact Lisa Crawford (803-957-0833 or [email protected]). More information can also be found by visiting http://gal.sc.gov.