19 May 2015

Estero resident a guardian for the voiceless

Florida's Guardian ad Litem program provides a voice for thousands of children through volunteers who serve as mentors and confidants, advocating for the safety and well-being of society's most vulnerable.

Estero's Stephanie Acorn is among these dedicated advocates. A retired financial analyst of indomitable spirit, she defines her purpose from day one on a case: "I am here for the child."

She doesn't pander to the wishes and whims of parents, legal guardians or relatives. Her job is to assess what living arrangement is best for the child and to be a stabilizing force in an emotional situation.

When Acorn was called to advocate for three boys living in Golden Gate four years ago, she immediately approached the eldest, then age 12, to make her relationship clear: "I told him, ‘I'm not here for your mother; I'm not here for your grandmother; I'm here for you.'"

"Stephanie is wonderful," said Holly Rodriguez, director of the 20th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program. "We need a lot more volunteers like her."


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