Joel Carden

GAL Volunteer out of the North Okaloosa County Office

What compels him to volunteer?

Joel has a special knack in working with GAL teen boys and seeks to give them hope. He has witnessed how they will continually try to push away all those around them due to years of being in conditional relationships where they were consistently let down. So it doesn’t surprise him that they have developed the protective mechanism of sabotaging. Joel provides hope for better days, days where they can experience stable, trusting relationships, He does this by consistently being there for them and never promising anything.

He tells the story of working with a young man, starting when he was 15. He worked with him in official GAL capacity until he aged out of the system. At that point, he could have moved on. But he stayed a consistent presence in the new adult’s life. He is now 21 years old and Joel still communicates with him, even offering him employment within his company.

What advice does he have for a new advocate?

Being a new volunteer can be overwhelming. Don’t get disappointed. Developing relationships with other volunteers is helpful. Taking advantage of the mentor program will be indispensable to staying the course. When you can bounce your feelings off of the more seasoned volunteers, it will help you to feel that someone knows exactly how you feel and can empathize. Finally, remember to utilize all the resources provided by the program.