Teaming Up to Change Children’s LivesThank you to the 14th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program in Panama, FL, for sharing this story with National CASA.
“I moved again. Will Santa not know where I’m at? Because he forgot me last year.”
It was one of Glenn and Sherri Eckhardt’s first cases as CASA volunteers. Four little boys had been removed from their mother’s care. Glenn and Sherri met with the children, and they met with the mother—when she would let them into the house. Despite everyone’s best efforts, ultimately the judge determined that the mother could not make a safe home for her children, and her parental rights were terminated.
Glenn and Sherri were determined to ensure that the boys stay together. After 14 months—and just two days before Christmas—a loving foster family adopted all four boys.
“Seeing them come into a family that is loving, caring, and eager to adopt them, knowing that they would finally have a happy holiday together—it was like a made for TV movie!” Glenn says today.
Five Christmases later, Glenn says the memory of that early success—and others like it—is what keeps him going. Glenn and Sherri have represented over 33 children in the system, almost all of them together. While they share a commitment to contributing to their community, each brings different strengths to their cases. Glenn, a retired Air Force security policeman, is comfortable dealing with conflict, such as interviewing incarcerated parents in prison or stepping into a hostile setting. Sherri is at her best talking with medical professionals, teachers and others involved in the children’s lives.
“While I’m much more willing to get into the confrontational situations, Sherri is more comfortable in the nurturing situations. Put the two together and we work out well,” says Glenn.
Glenn and Sherri’s success in giving abused and neglected children a voice and helping them find safe and permanent homes was recently recognized by the Florida State Guardian ad Litem program, which named them 2012 Florida GAL Volunteers of the Year.
“We were very surprised to be recognized in this way. We are part of a community of amazing volunteers,” says Sherri. “Glenn and I could not have won this award apart from each other. We feel very blessed. Together we make a great team.”
Glenn and Sherri Eckhardt are two of more than 77,000 CASA and guardian ad litem volunteers working to ensure that abused and neglected children have the experiences that all children deserve—including happy holidays with a loving family.