-- LENNY PERKINS, Richland
Over the last several years I have had the privilege to work as a volunteer for the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) program with the Benton/Franklin Juvenile Court. I have seen dedication, sacrifice, kindness and caring from the GAL staff and the GAL volunteers as they work to help children under 8 years old who, for whatever reason, have come under the court's jurisdiction. It is mostly hard, heart-breaking work, but sometimes you see a child and a family make a breakthrough and come together -- small miracles.
GALs work alongside social services (social workers, child protective services) and state of Washington attorneys -- and they, too, constantly demonstrate professionalism, caring and a huge desire to help out those in need while at the same time having to make those tough decisions to assure the child is safe and cared for and the law is upheld.
And finally, there are the commissioners/judges who listen to hundreds of sad and sometimes terrible stories and then have to make the final decisions that impact the children and the families for the rest of their lives. They are extremely knowledgeable of the law and they truly care about our most precious resource, the children.
All of these are overworked and dedicated people are fine and caring individuals and to me represent what America is all about, doing something for others because it is the right thing to do and not asking for any kind of reward or acknowledgment.