Gary & Carolyn Nichols
Volunteer Child Advocates, Milton Office
This delightful couple have been married for almost 44 years and their love and support of each other is palpable. What a gift to spend some time getting to know how their experience with the program has been a blessing in their lives.
Gary and Carolyn had just retired in 2015/2016. Gary, from being a minister of education for First Baptist Church and Carolyn from being a news reporter with the state’s Baptist newspaper. They met Carol Thomas, a GAL staff member, when she was recruiting at a church event. The idea of volunteering with the program appealed to the couple. Unfortunately, due to Carolyn’s battle with breast cancer, they were unable to start volunteering at that point. During the next year though, Carol would occasionally check in with them. After a year, the couple was ready to embark on their journey into the world of child welfare.
On their first visit ever, they met their GAL preschool-aged child. The girl shared how, when she was hungry, she had to scrounge for food in the garbage can (prior to her removal), the Nichols eyes were opened to the reality of what our children are facing and affirmed the couples decision to dedicate their precious retirement time to our community’s most vulnerable citizens.
Being a GAL couple has a wonderful array of advantages for both them and the children they represent. When they make a visit, the children naturally flock to Gary. This allows Carolyn to speak with the caregiver. Additionally, the couple feels safer being together and don’t fear going to areas that would be intimidating to a single person. Finally, when they write their reports, they are able to present a comprehensive picture to the court since they have two sets of eyes and ears to gather information.
They would advise new volunteers of a few pointers. Keep a sense of humor. Being able to laugh can ease some of the intensity volunteers deal with in the work we do. Be a good listener to our children and the caregivers. Finally, have compassion toward our families. The heartbreak that spans generations can be almost indescribable.
The Nichols are a dynamic “team” and they wouldn’t have it any other way. They would strongly encourage any other couples who have recently retired to consider taking on this very rewarding role.