Babs Wagner has spent much of the last 20 years helping children in need, mostly as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem who advocates for abused, neglected or dependent children in the court system.
When my youngest was in middle school, I volunteered to help in the classroom. That led to tutoring and meeting a sweet, troubled foster child who was a mom and in eighth grade, explained Wagner, 63, of Cary.
April is National Guardian ad Litem month and the 30th anniversary of the N.C. Guardian ad Litem program.
Volunteers are a diverse group of people who receive about 30 hours of training before they are appointed by a judge to represent a child in court. Also known as Court Appointed Special Advocates, the volunteers spend about eight hours each month visiting young clients, conducting interviews, reading reports and collaborating with social workers, therapists and teachers.
I became a Guardian ad Litem as way to give back to the community.
Children are (our) future, and in this troubled world, it is so gratifying to be a child advocate, said Wagner, who trained for the program in 1994 and has advocated for 20 children over the years.
Many volunteers learn about the program when they see a poster in the court house. The first point of contact for volunteers is Naeime Livingston, district administrator for the Wake County Guardian ad Litem program that represents more than 600 children.
The program aims to ensure that these children are provided with a safe, permanent home, Livingston said.
For most volunteers, its about helping children in need.
GALs are like-minded folks who understand the importance of kids feeling valued, Wagner said.
Wagner is also a longtime volunteer and adviser for the Friends of Wake County Guardian ad Litem nonprofit organization that was established in 1991.
Babs is the epitome of a nurturing and giving spirit. Our community has benefited by her generosity and advocacy, Livingston said, adding that Wagner has led efforts to provide school supplies and Christmas gifts for kids
The group also provides computers and essentials to children who come into care with few clothes and belongings.
Being a GAL has truly been the most purposeful thing Ive done, second only to raising my four children, Wagner said.