The Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, raised $30,612 at its sold-out Jazz on the Harbor event to support Southwest Florida children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.

Held March 19 at Port Charlotte Beach Park, Jazz on the Harbor drew a sold-out crowd, and was a music, culinary and sunset celebration highlighted by the smooth stylings of the Isaac Mingus Trio. Attendees also enjoyed a silent auction, wine package purchase event, seated dinner and a beautiful sunset over Charlotte Harbor.

Proceeds help the foundation recruit, train and support volunteer child advocates who represent children as they navigate the judicial, education and child welfare systems. Funds also provide “extras” like birthday parties, tutoring, summer camp programs, movie tickets, and registration fees for clubs and sports, as well as new beds, linens, blankets and stuffed animals so children can feel comfortable in their new living arrangement.

Guardian ad Litem Foundation held its first Jazz on the Harbor in 2019, but canceled the 2020 and 2021 events because of the pandemic. During that period, the event’s creator, champion and co-chair – longtime volunteer child advocate Richard Hoagland, and his wife, Mary Ellen Hoagland – both passed away. To recognize the couple’s leadership and influence, the Guardian ad Litem Foundation has established Hoagland’s Happy Stories Collection, a literacy outreach program to provide books to local children in the foster care system.

The Hoaglands’ children, John Hoagland and Cathleen Johannes, attended Jazz on the Harbor and accepted a plaque formalizing the new program.

“They always wanted to help children, and this was their way of giving back,” John Hoagland said. “It helped them help kids. They found an organization that did what they wanted to do.”

Johannes said her parents supported the Guardian ad Litem Foundation because “this is really a grassroots organization in terms of fundraising” and its mission aligned with their vision. In 2021-22, the foundation hosted Fashion to a Tea, the Superpower 5K Walk/Run, Voices of Hope Gala, March Madness Bracket Challenge and Jazz on the Harbor, all volunteer-led events that rely on a well-rounded base of support. Jazz on the Harbor, for example, featured dozens of silent auction baskets, many valued at less than $100.

“All of those dollars truly add up to make a huge difference in the life of a child,” said Jessica Stanfield, executive director of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation. “They are giving of their money, but more importantly, they are giving their hope.”

Barbara Berman and Carl Wolaver served as co-chairs for Jazz on the Harbor.

Event sponsors included Barbara Berman, Bohalls Total Comfort, Carl & Nancy Wolaver, Clyde & Margaret Tomassi Kang, Charlotte County, Charlotte State Bank & Trust, Donald & Barbara McCarrick, First Presbyterian Church of Port Charlotte, Fishermen’s Village, Jim & Bobbi Caraway, Mediation Services of SW Florida, MyDigitalListing.com, Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Center of Southwest Florida, Punta Gorda Symphony, Robert Ives and WhitCo Insurance-Alexia Martin Agency.

About Guardian ad Litem Foundation

The Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, was established in 1984 and is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports Guardian ad Litem programs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation, a United Way Partner Agency, has a mission of ensuring that every abused, neglected or abandoned youth in Southwest Florida has a voice as they navigate the judicial, education and child welfare system. The Foundation raises funds that help meet a child’s health, educational and social needs, as well as provides support for highly trained volunteer advocates who represent the best interests of a child until a safe, permanent placement is established. For additional information, visit VoicesForKids.org or call 239-533-1435.