TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bruce Arians, and his wife, Chris, have been supporting children in foster care for years but, in the midst of this pandemic, they have had to tweak their system of support.
“I just do whatever they tell me to do,” said Bruce with a smile.
“I am more of the hands on,” said Chris. “I will be the volunteer. I will be the ‘work with the kids’ kind of person. I have been doing that forever but he is the one who said, when he got his first head job, ‘Well, we have a platform now. We have a voice. People know who I am and will listen to me so we should do a foundation.’”
Together, they created the Arians Family Foundation in 2013. The motto of the foundation is “A Voice For Children.” These children often find themselves in the middle of a court case as a result of being abused or neglected by the people who are supposed to protect them.
Chris did not hesitate when she was asked to choose her favorite part of the entire foundation.
“The kids,” she said. “If you can show them there is a different way of living, you can break that cycle so that is always the goal to make a difference in as many ways as we can.”
Jennifer Starr is the executive director of Voices for Children of Tampa Bay, a nonprofit organization that partners with the Guardian ad Litem Program of Hillsborough County. According to Starr, 3,100 children are in foster care in Hillsborough County and more than 31,000 children are in foster care across the state of Florida. Those children deserve a voice and they get it through volunteers with the Guardian ad Litem Program.
“You got to have volunteers and volunteers, that is what we are after to get them trained, and think this is something you really want to do,” Bruce said.
He said he has only heard positive stories from the people who have decided to join the program.
“I have TV people too, business men, go do this and thank us over and over for making them aware that this is possible,” he said.
While the fundraisers and the publicity for these programs have stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Arians have done the opposite.
“We support six different foundations that support the child advocates and we are personally writing them a check every month until we can get back on board,” said Chris.
Those six foundations are located across the country. The Arians essentially decided to support the children in the communities they have called “home.” They currently fund two organizations in Florida, Voices for Children of Tampa Bay and the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay.
“That is what it is all about,” said Bruce. “Finding and touching someone’s heart who is going to want to help a child.”
If you would like to volunteer to be a Guardian ad Litem in the state of Florida, you can find additional information on program in your county here.
If you would like to volunteer to be a Guardian ad Litem in Hillsborough County, you can find the application here.
Note from Gabrielle:
I am a volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem Program in Hillsborough County. I have been a “GAL” here in Tampa and, previously, in Fort Myers for a total of five years. The children I have met as a volunteer are unforgettable. I only want to improve their world but, whenever I see them, they have that impact on me.
If you would like to learn more about the responsibilities of a Guardian ad Litem, I would be happy to talk to you. You can reach me on my cell phone, call or text, at 610-406-7172.
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