Tampa, FL – Did you know your New Year’s resolution could change the life of a foster child as well as your own? As 2019 looms, many begin formulating what to do differently in the upcoming year. Losing weight, becoming more organized, and “giving back” are often top considerations. But did you know volunteering has many health benefits? And that children in foster care in the Tampa Bay area see benefits in multiple ways from having a volunteer Guardian ad Litem?
Hillsborough County has more abused and neglected children in the dependency system than any other area of the state: 3,008 in the latest report. Pasco and Pinellas counties are second statewide with 2,550. Guardian ad Litem 13th Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County) Director Tabitha Lambert says, “Statistics show that foster children who have a Guardian ad Litem do better in school, receive more needed services, and usually find a forever home more quickly than those who do not have one. This occurs when a volunteer gets to know a child, and then advocates for the child or children in court.”
But if that isn’t reason enough for why to volunteer, consider the personal benefits you can receive in return for your time, energy, and efforts. Researchers found that volunteering
*decreases the risk of depression, especially for those 65 and older, and helps increase social interaction
*may reduce stress levels by producing a sense of appreciation, both given and received
*provides a sense of purpose and an outlet for old and new skills
*can help bring about better physical health (as opposed to non-volunteers)
*decreases mortality rates, even when controlling for age, gender and physical health
*can help decline pain intensity for chronic or serious health conditions
Volunteering is needed in many capacities in our community and can make an immeasurable difference in the lives of others. Guardian ad Litem volunteers receive all necessary training from the program. Information sessions are held weekly so interested parties can better discern if this might be a good opportunity for their interests and lifestyles. To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem program of Hillsborough County, and find the dates and locations of Information Sessions, call (813) 272-5110 or visit www.galtampa.org.