When Joe DiLorenzo signed up to volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem program at last year’s Carolina Forest Volunteer Fair, he didn’t know how much it would mean to him.
He was familiar with the program but says he didn’t realize it would make him feel so relevant.
“Yes, I do this because I want to give back to the community and to society, but there’s also a selfish reason,” the Carolina Forest resident says.
“It makes me feel like my time is valuable and that I’m doing something important.”
Retired from being an educator, DiLorenzo is an advocate for children who have been placed in either foster care or a group home, separated from their parents in an emergency or non-emergency situation.
DiLorenzo makes sure the child is in a situation that’s a good fit.
He visits the home and/or the school, speaks to the biological parents, sees that the child has court-ordered counseling, and in general, makes sure the child is benefitting and having his or her needs met.
Carolina Forest Library is having a second Volunteer Fair Friday, Jan. 10 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
More than 300 people attended last year’s fair, says branch librarian Jennifer Silmser, with as many expected this year.
“There are a lot of groups in our area that need people’s help, and there are a lot of people in the area with time on their hands and want to make a difference,” she says.
Connecting those groups with those people is what the volunteer fair is all about.
Some of the groups that will be on hand are the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Beautify Carolina Forest, CARIS Health Care, Carolina Forest Civic Association, Carolina Forest Dems, Conway Medical Center, Freedom Readers, Friends of the Carolina Forest Library, Guardian ad Litem, Habitat for Humanity, Horry County Animal Care Center – which, weather permitting, will have animals there for adoption - Heartland Hospice, Horry County Literacy Council, NMB Sea Turtle Patrol, Palmetto Literacy Council, Sav-R-Cats International, SC Thrive, SCORE, Horry County Planning & Zoning, Myrtle Beach Vet Center, Lower Cape Fear Mercy Care Hospice, SOS Healthcare and Kind Keepers Animal Rescue.
Marsha Wilmot has been a volunteer with SCORE for a few years. She’s a mentor, a workshop facilitator and works with community outreach.
“Their help is free, and that’s important,” she says about SCORE. SCORE helps people with their business plans, helps them “start their financials,” and guides them in deciding if their business idea is even viable. The volunteer fair is a great opportunity for people to learn about SCORE, Wilmot says, adding “I’m continually in awe of how well organized the library is when they do things like this.”
“This is a stress-free environment,” Silmser says. “If when you walk around, you don’t see anything you want to get involved in, that’s OK too.
“But, she says, “We want people to know we are part of the community and want to help make it better for everybody.”