On Saturday, March 12, the Dinner Divas staged a gala event to raise money for FranklinCounty’s Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program.

A guardian ad litem is appointed by a court to protect the interests of a child, or incompetency. Typically, the court may appoint either a lawyer, or a special advocate volunteer to serve as guardian ad litem in juvenile, family court, probate and domestic relations matters.

The guardian ad litem is not expected to make diagnostic or therapeutic recommendations but to provide an information base from which to draw resources. As authorized by law the guardian ad litem may advocate for a child at risk.

About 80 people attended the Saturday evening affair held at the lovely home of Henry and Elaine Kozlowsky on Magnolia Bluff.

The Dinner Divas, who specialize in one-off fundraisers for worthy causes, prepared dishes featuring, salmon, local seafood and a stunning array of sweets.

After the party had taken time to raid the buffet and enjoy a glass of their favorite beverage, Sarah Blumenthal, recruiter for the local GAL program, appealed to the crowd to consider volunteering to advocate for a child. Pat O’Connell of St.GeorgeIsland, a member of the Dinner Divas group, said she and her husband Michael have been GAL volunteers for 14 years.

“It is definitely the most rewarding and interesting charity we have been involved with,” O’Connell said.

Blumenthal said GAL volunteers give children “the opportunity to have a more normal life in a very abnormal situation.

“Our children are half as likely to cycle back into the system and twice as likely to be adopted” as other children at risk, Blumenthal told the gathering. “There’s a ripple effect. Change the life of one child and you change the world.”

Blumenthal described two of the GAL programs that the money raised will help fund.

“Beyond the Basics” seeks to provide children who are neglected or otherwise at risk with experiences most youngsters take for granted. It could be a dress for the prom, sports equipment or the money to go on a field trip.

“First Beginnings” is for kids who are aging out of the system to help them get a first apartment. Blumenthal said GAL maintains a warehouse with furniture and other household goods.

“Every one of our kids has a bed to sleep on. That may not seem like a lot to you but it’s a big deal,” she said.

Blumenthal said a training program for GAL volunteers will be held in Sopchoppy May 5 through 7. To learn more about GAL, call (850) 606-1213 or visit www.GAL2.org.

At the end of the evening, Pat O’Connell announced that the Divas had collected $3200 for GAL. She said she was pleased the Divas surpassed their goal of $2,000 for the event.

To see a gallery of the GAL benefit visit www.apalachtimes.com.