Who becomes a Citizen Advocate? What do they do?

 

People often ask, “Who becomes a citizen advocate? What do they do?” 

 

Here are seven short stories, gleaned from recent conversations.

 

Sandy Hopkins, an advocate for less than one year, has been helping his protégé’s family negotiate with the public school system with the hope that their son can soon attend school in his Wilmington Island neighborhood rather than be bussed across town to a completely segregated special education facility.

 

George Barrow, an advocate for more than two years, is looking for ways to help his protégé become more involved in our community by doing some volunteering, with the hope of this leading to some paying work.

 

BJ Franklin, an advocate for less than one year, sponsored his protégé Bill to become a member of the local Marine Corps League. Bill’s father, now deceased, was active and proud military. Bill grew up with this ethos as well. This is a nice way for Bill, who is new to Savannah and living with his sister, to begin to make friends here in Savannah.

 

Katie Hoover, an advocate for more than three years, spent part of her day recently by taking her young protege to the dentist and then out for a little reward for being good.

 

Phil Peterman, an advocate for four years, has provided his protégé with a laptop and software to compose music. A hobby and passion that could grow into more.

 

Angie Johnson, an advocate for more than 16 years, has been helping her protégé by finding a tutor for her  young son, something that his mom is not able to do.

 

Sherry Erskine, an advocate for more than 32 years, made sure that her protégé’s stay in a local nursing home after a hospitalization was temporary, rather than permanent or fatal. Sherry had the good help of her daughter Kate Rea and good friend Dawn Peil, during this time.

 

Who becomes a citizen advocate? 

 

In these stories, we have a stockbroker, an engineer, a web-marketing optimizer, a pension planner, an educator, a homemaker and a music maker. Two of these folks own their own businesses. Three work in local businesses. Two have retired, after balancing children and career for many years.

 

What do citizen advocates do?

 

Each offers himself or herself as someone who is open and available to be helpful as a fellow Savannahian.

 

Each looks for ways that they can make a good difference and they notice how being involved helps them see and feel things differently.

 

Many are using their personal connections in Savannah to create opportunities for their protégé. Savannah is a “who you know town.” This is how a lot of things get done.

 

Many are offering what looks like good old fashioned neighboring, practical help with getting something done.

 

Many are helping people get connected to the good things that Savannah has to offer all of us.

 

Many are helping people escape having to live a separate and segregated life. The code word is “special” and decoded it means segregated.

 

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