WHITEVILLE — An Arizona native has taken over the reins of the regional advocacy program for children.
A Yuma, Ariz. native, Scott Herrera enlisted in the U.S. Army after his education. With the help of the GI bill, the interior-westerner enrolled in college at Western Carolina University with the goal of one day going into law enforcement. It was in Cullowhee, however, he began thinking of a different direction.
“I had a peer ask if I had ever thought about the Guardian ad Litem program,” Herrera commented. “That’s when I started advocacy in Asheville and just fell in love with working with kids.”
When he completed his degree, there were no paid positions open in the area, so Herrera entered the juvenile justice system in 2008. He spent the next few years working counseling youth caught up in the court system.
In 2014, he joined the District 13 volunteer Guardian ad Litem program. When a paid position came open in October 2017, Herrera jumped at the chance to get paid for doing what he loves.
“I’ve always had a heart for this,” said Herrera. “I feel very lucky to be on board.”
Fluent in Spanish, Herrera said his goals involve education and awareness.
”I wish people understood how good it feels to walk out of a courtroom feeling like you did something to help a child who needed you,” he remarked. “Right now, we have about 25 plus cases without an advocate in Bladen and Columbus counties — these are children in your region and your area. Advocating for them is something that’s really rewarding.”
The leader’s goals also include a future backpack/school supplies program that benefits needy children and getting business sponsors to help fund additional services.
“I’d love to see the community get involved,” said Herrera. “I know DSS pays for everything, but it would be great if we could get some type of association where we can help children.”
Those plans, however, are down the road. His immediate goal is to fill a void.
“Right now, we have 25 plus cases without an advocate in Bladen and Columbus counties,” he remarked. “I’d love to see every child have an advocate.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.