Photo Credit: gal2.org
For the past few months, I have been developing a new website for the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. Serving Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties in northwest Florida, the program is part of a statewide coalition of volunteers, community partners and professional staff. Guardians ad litem are court-appointed volunteers who protect the rights of and advocate for the best interests of a child involved in a court proceeding, frequently as a result of alleged abuse or neglect. I could not be working pro bono for a nicer group of people or a better organization. The work the program does is important and so are their fundraising, recruitment and training efforts. My greatest hope is that the new website will help the program better meet their mission, improve overall efficiency when dealing with volunteers and the public, more efficiently provide information and increase the program's online profile. The people I have met are extremely friendly and a pleasure to work with, a trait that should not be uncommon but my experience says differently (see Clients From Hell). Special thanks to Deborah Moore, Leigh Merritt and Stacey Burns for making the entire process fun and painless. It has been a challenging but extremely fun project. With my current day job workload—among other duties, I am an assistant project manager on the massive data center consolidation project for the Florida Department of Transportation—I have been working on the website nearly every weeknight and weekend. Although it has been an exhausting time, getting this website built and online as quickly as possible has been a driving force. In addition to significantly improving my PHP programming, WordPress theme development and regular expression skills, this project has rekindled in me a powerful urge to work for good. I last felt this way when I was running a small law office ten years ago. Going home each day with the knowledge that my day's work made a tangible difference in someone's life was a wonderful reward. In the near future, I shall investigate what opportunities may be available for me at not-for-profit organizations. Because you never know—and I would like to have that feeling regularly again. Please take a few moments to check out the website and learn about the program. I would love to hear any feedback you may have.