Guardian Ad Litem program needs more volunteers in Pickens County

EASLEY — Pickens County has no shortage of cultural and historic sites. Pickens County has no shortage of educational opportunities. But, according to Cindy Wolthuis, Pickens County has a shortage of GALs.
Wolthuis is the County Coordinator for the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) program in Pickens County. According to Wolthuis, who recently addressed the Fort Prince George Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), a GAL is a trained volunteer who advocates for abused and neglected children.
“We are receiving one new child a day into the system,” said Wolthuis. “A child who needs someone to speak for him in court, a child who needs someone to listen to what he has to say.” The Pickens program has represented more than 440 children, on behalf of 214 family groups, referred by DSS, since July 1.
“Our goal is to place children in a safe, permanent home where they can grow and thrive,” said Wolthuis.
Two members of the Fort Prince George DAR Chapter currently serve as GAL volunteers.
“I was afraid I would get too attached to the kids, that it would be too emotional,” said Harriet Nash. She noted the training she received helps keep her emotions in check and remain objective.
According to Nash, the most important thing is to visit the child, get to know him or her so that you can make recommendations to the Family Court and other agencies about what is in a child’s best interest.
“You visit the child at least once each month,” Nash added.
Anyone who has a desire to help abused and neglected children, can spend one day each month visiting the child, and appear at court hearings to advocate on the child’s behalf can become a GAL.
“The training is the key,” said Lynda Abegg, also a GAL. “With the training I received, I feel I can effectively advocate for these children.”
Wolthuis noted that DSS has a lawyer to speak for them and the parents have a lawyer to speak for them, but there is no one to speak for the child and to tell the court what the child would like. That is where the GAL volunteer comes in. The judge will ask the GAL volunteer if they are in agreement before he rules on a case.
Wolthuis has worked in the field of social welfare for more than 10 years, beginning her career in Pickens County DSS in 1991. She worked for the SC Governor’s Office with the Foster Care Review Board beginning in 1997. Wolthuis began her position as County Coordinator the Pickens County Guardian Ad Litem Program in January 2010.
Want to be a GAL?  Go to or call 878-0807.
DAR is a women’s service organization that encourages patriotism, promotes historic preservation and provides educational opportunities. If you are interested in learning more about DAR, please contact Lynda Abegg at 850-3071.