As a “sucker for volunteering,” Scott Slater demonstrates the qualities necessary to be an effective leader of service in his community. Scott acts as chairman of the board for Heroes for Children, an Horry County, South Carolina, based nonprofit that aims to support its local Guardian ad Litem Program and raise awareness for children in situations of neglect and abuse.
Following his 28 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Scott moved to Horry County in 2009 to teach JROTC at North Myrtle Beach High School. Soon after, he began volunteering with local organizations. After beginning his service with Heroes for Children, his involvement grew to participating on the board of directors. Over the last eight years, he has held many leadership positions including treasurer, vice president and currently as chairman.
Scott said part of the reason he was drawn to Heroes for Children was because of his wife’s service as a Guardian ad Litem. In South Carolina, a Guardian ad Litem is a volunteer who speaks for children in the foster care system so they can find safe homes. The recommendations of the Guardian ad Litem can help a judge make informed decisions about the child’s future. A Guardian ad Litem Program is required to exist in every American state, though only some receive government funding. South Carolina does not provide funding for its program, which makes the need for outside donations and volunteer work a necessity. The Heroes for Children organization plays a key role offsetting some of the expenses of the Guardian ad Litems in Horry County.
TIME WITH HEROES FOR CHILDREN
Scott said that his draw to Heroes for Children was a simple desire to help with a cause in need.
“A neighbor who started the organization asked me if I’d volunteer, and I’ve always been such a sucker for volunteering. I had some free time, and I knew all the wonderful things my wife got out of being a Guardian ad Litem, so I decided to help the program with fundraising and things like that.”
He emphasized the exhaustive work Guardian ad Litems carry out to facilitate good environments for children in need. He also explained some of the ways volunteers of Heroes for Children aim to support the Guardians.
“As part of an unfunded program, Guardian ad Litems are pretty much left to their own devices to travel around and see the kids,” Scott said. “Horry is the largest county in South Carolina and some Guardians will drive more than two hours both ways to see a child. Heroes for Children primarily serves as a resource for helping the Guardian ad Litem coordinator. We provide training support, bring in guest speakers for training seminars and fundraise to provide resources for the Guardians so that all of the funds for traveling do not have to come from their own pockets.”
Scott said the most rewarding aspects of his volunteer efforts with Heroes for Children are the unique opportunities the group is able to provide to young adults moving out of the foster care system.
“We sponsor a scholarship program for young adults who were in the system,” he said. “Once you’re 18, you can opt to leave the system. Most are ready to leave, but some aren’t, and for them, we provide a small scholarship. One of the truly rewarding things for me is when one of those young men or women who were part of the foster care system graduates from high school and goes on to college. By providing them with scholarship money, I’m happy to know we played a role in giving them a better chance at succeeding in life.”
Scott’s motivation for staying active with Heroes for Children derives from a very simple aim to help those who need it, he said.
“The kids are really the sole thing that motivates me to stay involved. It pains me to know of some of the situations these children live in. I’m driven to help because I know that there are kids out there that need someone to speak on their behalf, and that there is already a Guardian ad Litem program in place to help; we just need to support them to give the kids the voice they deserve.”
INSPIRATION TO SERVE
When describing why people should support Heroes for Children, Scott related back to his own personal motivation for volunteering.
“People should take the time to support our cause in whatever way they can because of the direct way we provide support to children in tough situations,” he said. “Most people have an understanding of the foster care system and a lot of people assume it includes the child’s welfare. But the children don’t directly get any support in their personal wishes, except from the volunteer Guardian that goes out and meets them once a month, listens to what they need and tries to understand what their situation is. People get a lot out of knowing they’re helping children in otherwise very difficult situations.”
Scott emphasized the importance of community service for all people and said that there is an almost endless amount of work to be done by those willing to help.
“Consider volunteering because there are so many organizations that provide substantial support to those who need it,” he said. “Whether you do it one day a week or one day a month, it really doesn’t matter, just do something for the community. Regardless of who you are, we all need to get out there and help better our communities.”
Scott shared that people who have a heart for service should aim to use their talents for good and that all people have something to offer to better the world.
“One of the things I learned in my military career is that sometimes you have to do something not because you’ll get something out of it, but just because it’s the right thing to do. As a volunteer, I’ve ended up in many different leadership positions because my past has led me to become skilled at leadership. I believe my unique skill set has been able to offer Heroes for Children and other organizations support, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about – using what you alone have to help those in need.”
For information on how to support Heroes for Children, reach out to Scott at (843) 957-3425 or to make a donation, visit HeroesForChildren.info. For information on how to support the Guardian ad Litem Program or to become a Guardian ad Litem, contact Horry County Coordinator Erin Marshall at (843) 347-9750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.