Guadian ad Litem program holds 35th anniversary celebration
Lenoir, Greene and Wayne County Guardian ad Litem director Colleen Kosinski, far left, stands with several volunteers honored at Wednesday’s 35th anniversary celebration at the Lenoir County Courthouse. The volunteers pictured are, from left, Viola Figueroa, Nancy Connor West, George Jenkins, Angela Stilley and Linda Rouse Sutton. Photo by Junious Smith III / Neuse News
Unsung heroes were honored at the Lenoir County Courthouse Wednesday.
The branches of Lenoir, Wayne and Greene Counties held a 35th anniversary celebration for the Guardian ad Litem program. The program consists of volunteers who work with children and tell the court what is best for them in terms of custody and visitation after extensive research.
Wayne, Lenoir and Greene County Guardian ad Litem director Colleen Kosinski said she has been appreciative for the selfless actions of those who have stepped up to assist children in the program.
“These volunteers give up their time with no other reward than us occasionally saying ‘thank you,’ and they provide protection to children who are abused and neglected,” Kosinski said. “(The volunteers) make sure (the children) are safe. We serve 500 children a year on average, so thousands have been protected because volunteers in the community step forward. They warm my heart and make me love my job — I get to work with 175 volunteers in a three-county area: Wayne, Lenoir and Greene — and each volunteer is amazing.
“This is one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
During the celebration ceremony, nine volunteers were honored for their extensive work, including Lenoir County Commissioner Linda Rouse Sutton, who has been in the program for 26 years.
“I have received much more from this than I have given,” Sutton said. “(I try) to help out where I can and I’m thankful for being honored.”
Despite the program being around for 35 years, Attorney George Jenkins has been in the program for 36. Jenkins was part of a pilot program in Wayne County in 1982 and continued to work with children throughout the decades.
“Claudia Kadis started it over (in Wayne County) and convinced others we needed to do the same in this county,” Jenkins said. “She was able to get it rolling, then we had another administrator after she retired, then Colleen came in and she has done a masterful job.”
Viola Figueroa, Emily Peacock, Shirley Robinson, Angela Stilley, Nancy Connor West and Wallace and Teresa Younger were all honored for their parts in the program, many totaling more than 20 years of experience.