July 2019 Meeting
Date: June 15, 2019
Port St. Lucie-based recruiter for the Guardian ad Litem Program, a statewide organization (founded in 1988) which represents abused, abandoned and neglected children in Florida’s dependency courts.
Nicole spoke about how the Program changes the lives of children in the foster care system on the Treasure Coast. The goal is to reunite children with their families, or get them adopted. The program has an 80-85% success rate for return or adoption. Currently, 365 volunteers and 30 staff work with the 950 children in the system. Volunteers receive two days of training – talking to children, how to bond, court observation for testifying on behalf of the kids. The GAL volunteers visit their charges at least every 30 days – either announced or unannounced – and advocate to a judge five times a year. There are also programs for kids after they turn 18, such as extended foster care and an independent living program that provides tuition and a stipend.
President and CEO of the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce. Terissa serves as the official spokesperson for the Chamber in conjunction with the Chairman of the Board. In addition, she volunteers on various boards and committees throughout St. Lucie County to further the mission of the Chamber of Commerce.
Terissa explained that St. Lucie County has only one Chamber of Commerce, creating power in being united since the 90s. The Chamber is a 501(c)3 business organization supported by dues-paying members and does not receive any government funding. The Chamber’s projects include the Young Floridians with a full scholarship to community college plus $1,000. There is also an adult leadership program, a one-year educational effort that includes tours of area businesses (e.g., Tropicana) and the county jail. The Economic Development Council, a spinoff of the Chamber, which now gets public funding, serves as a business advocate.
We also heard from Rebecca Booth with Keep PSL Beautiful on collecting caps for the Buddy Bench project. Plastic caps and lids that cannot be recycled normally are melted and formed into Buddy Benches for schools, a place where children who are bullied or feeling down can sit to meet new friends or get help. Keep PSL Beautiful will also be experimenting with recycling plastic wrap and if that goes well, foam container recycling.
The club will be collecting these materials at our monthly meetings.