Summit DD Aids in Probate Court Volunteer Guardian Program

When individuals are in need of long-term care or assistance in making informed life decisions, they often turn to a family member or friend to serve as their guardian. Unfortunately, not every citizen in Summit County has someone to turn to for such support and guidance. Recognizing the need for increased assistance for adults in our communities, the Summit County Probate Court recently launched the Volunteer Guardian Program. The Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board, or Summit DD, and several local agencies are working together to implement this innovative program that aims to provide legal guardianship and improved quality of life for adults in Summit County.

Under the leadership of Probate Court Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer, Jewish Family Services (JFS) was selected to lead the Volunteer Guardian Program in collaboration with the Summit County Executive’s Office, Summit County Public Health, the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, and as previously mentioned, Summit DD. Through the program, volunteers will be carefully trained by JFS to serve as advocates, representatives and decision-makers for individuals in need of a court-appointed guardian. With basic and ongoing training, guardians will work with an individual’s team or service provider to ensure the health, safety and rights of each person.

“The goal is to link individuals who need assistance with qualified, volunteer guardians who can provide the resources each person needs,” shared J.J. Mesko-Kimmech, JFS Volunteer Guardian Program’s Director of Volunteers. “By working with several local agencies, we aim to ensure the stability and overall well-being of the adults in our community who need guardianship.”

“This initiative addresses a need for many adults Summit DD supports,” remarked Lisa Kamlowsky, Summit DD Assistant Superintendent. “Connecting individuals with right-fit guardians is a great step in ensuring that those we support will have the resources they need to live a good life.”

The JFS Volunteer Guardian Program is working swiftly to begin connecting individuals with right-fit guardians. For a list of volunteer qualifications or for more information, contact the Probate Court atcommunityoutreach@summitprobatecourt.com or J.J Mesko-Kimmich at volunteerguardian@jfsakron.org.

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