Written by yvonne.marrone

Together We Can

 

August 12, 2021

Contact: Tabitha Lambert,
Guardian ad Litem Circuit Director
813-272-5110

Together We Can

Tampa, FL – Seeking someone who can listen, care, be there when they say they will, and speak up for a child. Applicants can be from different backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and faiths, just like the children in foster care. Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteers are needed to be a consistent, caring adult for a child who has been abused, abandoned or neglected, and a few hours a month can make a lifetime of difference.

“Together we can do great things.” Volunteer child advocates will establish a relationship with a child, do some independent research on their behalf, and work in partnership with others to help ensure the child has a chance to grow academically, socially and physically. With approximately 3,000 children in foster care in Hillsborough County alone, there are not enough volunteers for them all.

Our volunteers listen, check in, follow up, hold the system accountable and speak out for a child’s best interests. Faith groups often do the same for their congregations and play a vital role in the safety and well-being of children and families. Providing support, encouragement and care for a foster child will help them become a stronger community member as an adult.

“Especially during 2020, we learned we often need help to survive and thrive,” says Tabitha Lambert, Guardian ad Litem 13th Circuit Director. “Children in foster care need to know there are people who care and want the best for them if they are to thrive.”

The Guardian ad Litem program provides training for volunteers and a team effort to help children in foster care. To learn more, visit www.galtampa.org or call 813-272-5110. Information sessions are available via phone.

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Written by yvonne.marrone

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Community Impact Day

TB Times: Bucs honor local charities on Community Impact Day
Several Tampa Bay organizations were invited to training camp Friday to watch the team practice and receive school supplies from the Arians Family Foundation.
https://www.tampabay.com/sports/bucs/2021/08/06/bucs-honor-local-charities-on-community-impact-day/
In anticipation of a front-row seat for Bucs training camp, Madeline Robinson said a couple of the children she works with didn’t sleep Thursday night.
Robinson’s organization, Wheelchairs 4 Kids, was one of many invited to AdventHealth Training Center Friday for Buccaneers Community Impact Day. Groups from several local non-profits — Special Olympics Florida, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, Voices for Children of Tampa Bay and Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay — also got the chance to watch some of their favorite players practice in person.
Children with Wheelchairs 4 Kids held circular signs with players’ names and numbers printed on them. Their “favorite players” lists, of course, were headlined by quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Mike Evans.
“They all have different ones (signs),” said Robinson, the organization’s executive director. “Of course, the ones that have Brady and Gronk, the other kids are a little jealous.”
Wheelchairs 4 Kids brought a group of 42 to camp, comprised of 15 children and select family members. Robinson said the organization has been invited to camp the past five or six years. But before Friday, (discounting 2020 when fans weren’t permitted), it could only bring about 10 people.
Wheelchairs 4 Kids has two main channels of service for children with physical disabilities: one for fun activities in the community and another for providing free home modifications, wheelchairs and other needed equipment to children and their families.
The Bucs have had Wheelchairs 4 Kids on their radar for several years now, and the organizations have an excellent relationship, Robinson said. She and the families involved with the nonprofit were excited to be invited back this year, especially coming off a Super Bowl-winning season.
“The Buccaneers, they’re always supporting us,” Robinson said. “When they got the (Lombardi) trophy last year, we had a private day with the trophy. That was kind of fun. They’ve been amazing.”
Guardian Haven Academy, an organization formed in 2018 that teaches life skills to individuals 22 years old and up with intellectual or developmental disabilities, also was invited.
“It’s very important to see the individuals with smiles on their faces,” co-founder Chris Humphries said. “We let them know a couple days ago that they would be attending, so a lot of smiles are put on their faces, and this morning was even more.”
As part of a more than decade-long tradition, athletes from Special Olympics Florida were invited to run drills with Bucs staff members after the morning session. Special Olympics Florida serves over 60,000 athletes across the state, and Hillsborough County has a nationally renowned adaptive sports program (which recently added wheelchair football to its repertoire).
Additionally, 200 people from Voices For Children of Tampa Bay and Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay were gifted backpacks and school supplies by head coach Bruce Arians’ Arians Family Foundation. Tuesday marks the first day of school for Hillsborough County public school students.
Arians called Community Impact Day “one of my favorite days.”
“Just to see the smile on their face and know they’ve got everything they need for school,” he said. “It’s been one of my favorite days for a long, long time.”

Written by yvonne.marrone

Bruce & Christine Arians Film PSA Boosting Guardian ad Litem License Plate Sales

BRUCE_CHRISTINE ARIANS FILM PSA BOOSTING GUARDIAN AD LITEM LICENSE PLATES final 4.8.2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: April 8, 2021
CONTACT: Sonia Valladares
Cell: (786) 239-1118

Sonia.Valladares@gal.fl.gov

BUCS COACH BRUCE ARIANS, WIFE CHRISTINE FILM PSA
BOOSTING GUARDIAN AD LITEM LICENSE PLATES

[Tallahassee] – Super Bowl-winning Coach Bruce Arians of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his wife, Christine, star in a public service announcement encouraging Floridians to support the state’s Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program by purchasing the GAL Foundation’s new specialty license plates.

The 30-second spot opens with Coach Arians hoisting the Lombardi trophy to cheers and the question, “Well, Coach, now that you’ve won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do?” “I’m going to….” he starts to reply, only to be cut off by his wife. “We’re actually going to pre-order our GAL specialty plates,” she says. “It’s the best way to support the wonderful work of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, their volunteer advocates, and Florida’s most vulnerable children.”

GAL represents abused, abandoned and neglected children in the state’s dependency courts. It does this with three-person teams, consisting of an attorney, a social worker and a volunteer. The Program has more than 10,000 volunteers statewide – and the Arians Family Foundation has long supported their efforts.

“I began working with Guardian ad Litem to help ensure that children who have been abused or neglected by their families receive the help they need,” said Christine Arians, who worked for years as a family law attorney before establishing the Arians Family Foundation in 2013.

The GAL Program sought the specialty license plate to raise awareness of the challenges faced by abused children. State Sen. Aaron Bean and former state Rep. Jamie Grant sponsored the 2020 legislation creating the tag.

“It says ‘Heartfelt Child Advocacy’ on the plate, and that’s what this is all about,” Bean said. “These children are in the child welfare system through no fault of their own. They deserve all the help we can give.”

GAL Executive Director Alan Abramowitz agreed, “This is for people who want to support children in foster care.”

According to Sonia Valladares, CEO of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation, the Arians family support is a game-changer in terms of raising public awareness.

“Coach Arians is not just the winning Super Bowl coach,” she said. “He and his wife are both great philanthropists. The family has lifted up every community where he’s coached.” She called the tag “a legacy for kids in Florida.”

View the Arians’ PSA at GAL Tag PSA 30 sec – YouTube. Purchase a license plate online at https://flgal.org/GALTag. To learn more about becoming a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, please call 1-866-341-1425 or visit www.guardianadlitem.org. And to learn more about the Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation, visit www.flgal.org or call 1-850-922-7213.

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Written by yvonne.marrone

Alan Abramowitz Re-Appointed by Governor DeSantis to 3 year term

ALAN ABRAMOWITZ RE-APPOINTED AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR 7.29.2020

ALAN ABRAMOWITZ RE-APPOINTED AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE STATEWIDE GUARDIAN AD LITEM OFFICE

[Tallahassee] – Governor Ron DeSantis has reappointed Mr. Alan Abramowitz as Executive Director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office, for a three-year term that began on July 2, 2020.

The Guardian ad Litem Program represents abused, abandoned and neglected children in Florida’s dependency system, and Abramowitz has been Executive Director since 2010.

In announcing the re-appointment, Governor DeSantis wrote to Abramowitz, “Your appointment is evidence of my utmost confidence in your ability to serve with excellence and distinction.”

“I am honored to serve Governor Ron DeSantis and the children of the State of Florida,” said Abramowitz. “I am motivated and inspired by the children we serve, the volunteers that offer their time and energy to give children a voice, and the staff who work as part of a multidisciplinary team to make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. I want to thank the Governor and the Legislature for their unwavering support of the Program’s best interests’ model of representation. Their commitment to shaping laws to give child advocates the tools to more effectively advocate for children’s safety, permanency and well being has been outstanding.”

Abramowitz, who served in the Florida National Guard and the United States Army, is Board Certified in Juvenile Law. He has a passion for working with volunteers, having previously served in the Peace Corps as a volunteer.

Abramowitz received his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University, his master’s degree from the University of Central Florida and his law degree from Florida State University.
To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem Foundation, or to become a volunteer, visit www.flgal.org or call 1-850-922-7213.
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Written by yvonne.marrone

Christine Arians Chosen Community Advocate of the Year by Statewide Florida Guardian ad Litem Program

Christine Arians Chosen Community Advocate of the Year

Tampa, FL – Success for the Arians family is not always measured by actions on the football field. While many people were excited about the potential Bruce Arians was bringing to the Buccaneers, Guardian ad Litem volunteers were also excited for the potential Christine Arians and the Arians Family Foundation were bringing to complement their advocacy efforts for foster children. The couple’s support of programs for children who have been abused and neglected is now recognized with Christine being named Community Advocate of the Year by the Florida Guardian ad Litem office.

The Guardian ad Litem program annually recognizes volunteers, attorneys, foundations and judges who have gone above and beyond to support foster children in judicial circuits across the state. The individual circuits submit nominees to the state office for annual awards. Tabitha Lambert, 13th Circuit Director, says, “Christine and the Arians family have supported advocacy for children in foster care for many years and in several states. When she learned they were relocating to Tampa, she immediately reached out and wanted to continue their efforts here. In just one year, her involvement has made a huge difference for children across the Tampa Bay area.”

Chris Arians has been instrumental in financial support and communication for the Guardian ad Litem children in both the 13th and 6th Judicial Circuits. She attended a CASA (the national program for Guardian ad Litem) conference in Georgia where she met with individuals from five states to discuss the pressing issue of attorneys for foster children. Chris brought together directors and non-profit leaders from multiple areas to discuss program issues, fundraising ideas, and a CASA proposal for auxiliary programs. We are so lucky to have Chris and the entire Arians family in our corner,” says Jennifer Starr, Voices for Children director. “They truly are a blessing to us, GAL/CASA and all the children they lift up each and every day!”

As one of their first events here, the Arians family provided backpacks and school supplies for 100 foster children who were also able to meet players and get autographs and photos. The Arians have provided tickets to home football games, financial support for holiday gifts, and are exploring ways to provide opportunities for reunifying families.

The Arians also shared their time to record public service announcements about the importance of having volunteer advocates for foster children and the need for donations during the COVID-19 restrictions. The PSAs can be seen on www.vfcgal.org and www.galtampa.org.

For more information about the Guardian ad Litem program, contact 813-272-5110.

Chris Arians Community Advocate Award
Written by yvonne.marrone

Rick Dragotto Named Guardian ad Litem Managing Attorney

Tampa, FL – The Guardian ad Litem program of the 13th Circuit, which serves Hillsborough County, has named Rick Dragotto, “a fierce litigator and advocate” for abused and neglected children, as its new Managing Attorney.

“I am excited about Rick’s plans for advocating for the children our program represents,” says Tabitha Lambert, Circuit Director for the 13th Circuit Program. “His leadership will be instrumental to our team.”

Dragotto has been with Guardian ad Litem for almost 14 years. Before that, he was a Lead Trial Attorney in the 13th Circuit, which he knows well. He frequently conducts legal trainings for Guardian ad Litem staff and volunteers, and also acts as a mentor to other attorneys in the office.

“Rick is a vital asset to the Program,” says Camille Frazer, Guardian ad Litem’s Regional Attorney.

Dragotto follows Liza Ricci, the Program’s previous Managing Attorney, whom he credits with setting a high standard.

“It has been my honor, over the years, to fight alongside the hardworking staff and extremely dedicated volunteer child advocates of the Guardian ad Litem Program, who are passionately committed to giving abused, abandoned and neglected children a powerful voice in court and in our community,” Dragotto says. “I share their passion and their commitment. I am very excited to have the opportunity to help lead the path forward.”

Dragotto earned his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Prior to joining the Program, he was a Staff Attorney at Heart of Florida Legal Aid Society in Bartow, Florida.

Learn more about the Guardian ad Litem program at www.galtampa.org or contact 813-272-5110.

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Dragotto Press Release 4.29.2020