SecurityNational Mortgage Company has generously gifted the Florida Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Foundation with $10,000 in Target gift cards.
It’s part of a deepening commitment to Guardian ad Litem by SecurityNational, thanks to company employees who also volunteer as advocates for abused, abandoned and neglected children in dependency court proceedings. The cards will be distributed to four different not-for-profit organizations that provide support to the GAL Program and the children it represents throughout Florida. The not-for-profits are in Osceola, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties and the area round Fort Myers.
The cards will enable children in need to pay for clothes, school supplies, toys, equipment for after-school activities and more.
Statewide, GAL has thousands of volunteers whose role is to get to know the child, visit and support them throughout the case, and provide information and recommendations to judges as part of the GAL multidisciplinary team. They work with attorneys and social workers to advocate for the child’s best interests. That advocacy extends beyond the courtroom and into communities, where GAL volunteers can help find resources to help children.
SecurityNational Mortgage Company Director of Marketing Wes Schueneman said some employees have volunteered with GAL for a number of years, giving the company a first-hand look at the importance of investing in children.
“Due to the passion of our team and our connection to this special program, we wanted to further their efforts on a regional level,” Schueneman said. “We wanted to find even more ways to give back and make a difference in 2021, so we looked to our fellow team members for inspiration and direction. This is where we found a special connection to the Guardian ad Litem Program.”
SecurityNational’s bond with GAL goes back to 2013, when Alex Cardenas, Regional Director for the Orlando branch, began volunteering with the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Osceola County, Inc. He was in college then, and didn’t have much time, but raising money to support children and volunteers was something he could do.
“You find out how hard it is for a lot of people in your community,” Cardenas said. “This is a program that is near and dear to the hearts of our community.”
Since then, the company has hosted a toy drive and fundraisers, and during the pandemic, Concert for a Cause, a virtual event live-streamed to thousands of viewers that helped to raise thousands of dollars.
SecurityNational’s Rhonda Pulver Smith is another shining example. She and The Elite Team hosted an event for the GAL Foundation of Tampa Bay, Inc., doubling the company’s original donation goal of $2,500.
Pulver Smith praised SecurityNational for encouraging all those efforts. “The company saw that this is what we were doing, and they got behind it,” she said.
Studies show that children with a Guardian ad Litem are more likely to be adopted, half as likely to re-enter foster care, less likely to spend time in long-term foster care, more likely to have a plan for permanency, and more likely to perform well in school.