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Jax Daily Record Monday, Oct. 10, 201612:00 PM EST

November benefit planned for Guardian ad Litem program

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

It has likely never been considered by anyone who visits as “The Land of Oz” and the sidewalk leading to the building is far from the Yellow Brick Road, but on Nov. 4, the Duval County Courthouse will be transformed into The Emerald City.

That’s because it’s where the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Florida’s First Coast Inc. will host its inaugural charity event, “There’s No Place Like Home.”

The event will mark a first for the building and the organization.

“It’s the first time anything like this has happened at the courthouse and the first time we’ve held a fundraiser,” said Kellie Prusiecki, foundation board member and event chair.

Guests will sip drinks and sample hors d’oeuvres while listening to The Chris Thomas Band.

Live and silent auctions will be conducted and Circuit Court judges will guide behind-the-scenes tours of the courthouse.

“It will be a lot of fun for people who have never been in the courthouse,” said Prusiecki.

Proceeds will be used to recruit and train special advocates for children, whose job is to serve as their voice in court.

The Legislature created the Guardian ad Litem program in 1974. The 4th Judicial Circuit has more than 500 trained, certified and court-appointed volunteers who help nearly 1,200 children each month.

Foundation board President Marietta Sampson said it takes 30 hours and costs about $3,000 to train a guardian. Even with so many people participating, the need remains far greater than the program’s capacity.

“A lot of people don’t understand what Guardian ad Litem does. We hope this event will raise the public’s awareness and help us recruit more volunteers,” she said.

“We’d love to have the support of the legal and business communities,” said Prusiecki. “We hope the event will be a wonderful blueprint for Guardian ad Litem in the 4th Circuit.”

To reserve tickets for $75 or for sponsorship information, visit galfirstcoast.org and click on “Events.”

[email protected]

(904) 356-2466

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