Ashley vinson

GAL Volunteer out of the South Okaloosa County Office

Why did she decide to volunteer?

Ashley grew up in the foster care system experiencing both good and bad situations. Therefore, as an adult, she wanted to give children a consistent person and make them feel that they were heard and not just a cog in the system. She wanted them to feel that they had a dedicated person in their corner.

Has there been an experience that had a profound effect on her?

In her first case she was assigned a couple of preteens. When Ashley first started working with them, the kids had little interest in their schooling. She was able to spend time with them, encouraging them to see the value in education, even tutoring them through their difficult subjects. When she finished up on the case, she could see what a change had occurred in the kids’ perspectives. They chose to care about their schoolwork and were motivated to do well. They even did their homework without being told to do so.

What advice would she give to someone considering volunteering?

Make sure you only sign up if you can be fully committed to the one-year minimum of service. It can be very damaging to the child to not have you there from start to finish. Also, if you can do more than what is required as far as time spent with them, it will benefit both you and the kids.

Understand that not every story has a happy ending. What happens is often beyond your control. This can be disheartening, so be prepared for this possibility.