Manatee Elementary School fifth grade class named Community Advocate of the Year!

The Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem

The Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program named Mr. Plechaty and his 2016-2017 5th grade class at Manatee Elementary School as the state’s Community Advocate of the Year for helping children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.


Last year Mr. Ben Plechaty’s fifth-graders worked with Friends of Children of Brevard, the GAL non-profit. They provided children in foster care with individual care packages, collecting basic hygiene items and personal touches like fuzzy socks and stuffed toys. The children said the project led them to think about what others might be going through in their own classrooms.


“Sometimes the problems of the world seem overwhelming and you don’t know where to start. It starts locally, one person at a time,” Mr. Plechaty taught them. “That’s how you help.”


The class project moved Sharon Graham, GAL Circuit Director for the Guardian ad Litem 18th Circuit, which serves Brevard and Seminole Counties, to write members of Brevard’s legislative delegation, “I know you must be as proud as we are of the children who did this very thoughtful and giving act.”


State Sen. Dorothy L. Hukill, R-Port Orange, and Rep. Thad Altman, R-Indialantic – both longtime supporters of GAL – said they were.


“These students are great examples for our community,” Hukill said. “I am encouraged by their hard work and confidant they will continue to serve throughout their lives.”


“We encourage everyone to learn from these students’ shining example,” said Altman.


On Nov. 14, 2017 at 8:15 a.m., Mr. Plechaty and his former fifth-grade class – now sixth graders – were presented with their award. In keeping with the GAL theme, “What’s Your Super-Power?,” they received capes as well – the gift of a private donor.


Congratulations Mr. Plechaty!

About the Guardian ad Litem Program

Thousands of abused, abandoned and neglected children become the subject of judicial proceedings each year in Florida. Their voices are often unheard and best interests overlooked in the complicated and overburdened adversary process. Guardians ad Litem (GAL) are citizens who volunteer to become part of a court program to represent the best interests of an assigned child. The volunteer Guardian ad Litem is a representative for the child before the court, social service agencies and the community. He/she also protects the child during the family crisis, court proceedings, and follows the child’ progress.

About Friends of Children of Brevard

Friends of Children funds clothing, beds, bikes, computers, diapers, school supplies, luggage, holiday gifts, duffle bags and other items not provided by government agencies. We also provide these children with some basic opportunities and access to normal childhood activities.


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