Calling for volunteers to become a Guardian of the Person.
Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Lima, Ohio, November 3, 2021.
Crime Victim Services, a long-standing Lima-based non-profit, provides Volunteer Guardians
to victims of a crime who are deemed unable to manage their personal affairs, and who do not have family or friends to fill the role of guardian.
Crime Victim Services’ Guardian Program is offering an Information Session on Tuesday, November 17, from noon-1 p.m. at Crime Victim Services, 330 North Elizabeth Street, Lima.
Contact Elysia Bush at 419-222-8666 or email email@example.com to register.
According to Crime Victim Services’ website, Volunteer Guardians are appointed by the Allen County Probate Court for adult victims of a crime who are “deemed unable to make important life decisions while ensuring their safety, dignity, and quality of life.”
This is different from a Guardian of the Estate, who oversees the finances and assets of their ward, but generally does not make decisions regarding personal affairs.
The need for a guardian is often progressive, as an individual ages or due to physical or intellectual disability, with specific concern for preventing revictimization.
According to Katie Campbell, Program Coordinator, there are currently 10 Volunteer Guardians. “We have a few awaiting a volunteer and continue to receive referrals from Probate Court,” said Campbell.
What does a Guardian actually do?
Their website explains “Guardians spend an average of two to three hours per month with their protected person, helping ensure they are taken care of and their needs are met. This can include helping to make important medical and legal decisions, advocating for the person's wishes in court, individualized activities, and navigating interpersonal relationships,” in addition to regular reports to the program and the court.
According to Campbell, Volunteer Guardians do not control the lives of their protected persons, but guide them towards the best quality of life possible.
For Rachel Wykoff, the first Volunteer Guardian in the local program, this meant she had to negotiate some give and take with her protected person, “Kenny”. “He didn’t want a lot of poking and prodding,” Wykoff said in reference to medical care. So she cut a deal with Kenny: “We made an agreement, if it’s just a quick little doctor’s visit, just a regular check-up… and he didn’t want to go to this one, that’s okay. However, if his condition worsens or it’s for something serious,” then she had to “put her foot down.” This is a prime example of how a guardian looks out for the well-being of their protected person, while also acknowledging their feelings and maintaining their personal dignity.
According to Andrew Carey, the second Volunteer Guardian of the program, your main purpose is to steer your protected person towards the best quality of life possible. As Carey put it, you are “concentrating on their quality of life and making sure they’re as happy as they can be.” Carey mentioned he was constantly trying to get his protected person outdoors to be more active. As a guardian, he encouraged, not enforced physical activity, knowing that it would improve his protected person’s well-being.
Along similar lines, another protected person desperately needed to lose weight. Her ability to stay at her current location, as well as have surgery, hinged upon her losing weight. Her Volunteer Guardian had to pull in the living facility’s care team, dietitian, and his protected person to form a team who worked together to create an incentive program that rewarded her for progress and created a strong and consistent framework from staff to assist her in reaching her goals.
This story highlights how guardians are just one piece of the support system surrounding a protected person. According to Campbell, these Volunteer Guardians work closely with herself, social services staff at the living facilities, counselors, Allen County Developmental Disabilities board, medical professionals and others to ensure and promote the protected person’s safety, dignity and quality of life.
When another young protected person with an intellectual disability wanted a smartphone, his Volunteer Guardian advocated with his team and payee to budget for and supply the phone. However, the Guardian quickly realized that his protected person needed further training and boundary-setting in how to safely use social media and communications online. Thankfully, Crime Victim Services already provided cyber safety courses as part of their Violence Prevention program, so the Guardian was able to pull in expertise to develop training for the protected person and staff.
To find out more, attend the upcoming Information Session on Tuesday, November 17, from noon-1 p.m. at Crime Victim Services, 330 North Elizabeth Street, Lima. Contact Elysia Bush at 419-222-8666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The Guardian Program can be found on Twitter @CvsGuardian, Instagram @cvsguardian and Facebook@cvsguardian