In the New Year, help children
The start of 2020
Most of us see the New Year as a fresh start, a clean slate. That’s why so many people choose Jan. 1 to resolve to improve their health, family relationships, work lives and communities.
If you haven’t already decided what you’ll improve in 2020, may I suggest volunteering to help improve a child’s life?
We already know volunteering isn’t just good for the community but for you as well. It helps you make friends, sets a good example for your family, gives you a sense of purpose and can even help reduce stress. Volunteering is good for the body, mind and spirit.
You can get all those benefits with one resolution: volunteer as a Guardian ad Litem. The Guardian ad Litem Program advocates for abused, abandoned and neglected children who have been removed from their parents. Since the opioid epidemic ravaged Florida, we’ve seen a huge influx of cases caused by parental drug abuse. The Tampa Bay area has more children in the dependency system than any other part of the state. Children are often scared and feel they have no control over their lives. Child advocates volunteer to be their voices in court, visit them and offer them hope for their futures.
These children have been through the trauma of being taken from their parents, whom they love regardless of what occurred. They may live with a relative or in licensed foster care; they may need a counselor, therapist or tutor — and those are services for which we advocate. They also need a constant figure in their lives while in foster care, and this is where a Guardian ad Litem comes in.
Perhaps the best thing about our program is that you really can turn a child’s life around. Many of the youngsters we represent have had no one to read to them, listen to them, celebrate their achievements, or guide them through difficulties. Sharing your time can make all the difference in the world.
To learn more about how you can volunteer, please call (813) 272-5100 or visit www.galtampa.org.
The writer is the Guardian ad Litem director for the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County.
Fire guns into the air at a cost
Another innocent person is killed by someone firing a gun in the air to “celebrate” the holiday. It is past time that our Legislature made firing guns into the air what it is — felony attempted manslaughter. Anyone convicted should automatically lose his or her right to possess, borrow, or use any gun for the remainder of their lives.
R. H. Parta, Bradenton
We need better laws
Texting law drives a fine line | Jan. 1
It is difficult to understand why Florida seems so reluctant to do anything substantial to deal with texting and driving.
The National Safety Council says that in the United States 390,000 people are injured in road accidents due to texting each year. In Florida, these accidents are claiming the life of one person nearly every day. Texting while driving needs more serious consideration than a token $30 fine.
In Canada, the province of Ontario has passed a new law that will deliver a fine of up to $1,000 for texting and driving with a three-day suspension of license and three demerit points. That is serious legislation.
We have to stop letting politicians off the hook with their fines and half measures while our people continue to die.
John Chandler, Largo