Alfredo Nunez and his wife moved to Bradenton more than four years ago after having lived in the Boston area for 36 years. For more than three decades, he worked for the Boston School Department as a teacher, assistant principal and then as principal. His interest in teaching came from the belief, one still held, that he should make use of his education to make the world a better place, especially for those less fortunate. His daughter continues that spirit as political director for Sen. John Kerry from Massachusetts. He became a GAL volunteer in January 2009 and his wife in 2011, and they now work cases together.
Alfredo recently was asked to become a volunteer team leader working with Manny Hernandez, his child advocacy coordinator.
Q: What did you do for a living before becoming a GAL? Did your former experience help with your volunteer work and, if so, how?
A: I became a GAL volunteer after spending 33 years in the Boston School system, 28 of those years as an elementary school principal. The majority of our families struggled to make ends meet and the poverty rate was high. The transition to becoming a GAL was a natural for me: I love helping children.
Q: How and why did you become a volunteer?
A: I became interested in the GAL program through my best friend who has been a GAL in Citrus County for over 10 years. He told me what he did and I knew that after retirement, that's also what I wanted to do.
Q: How would you describe your role as a GAL volunteer? Is this what you expected? How is it different? How would you describe it to someone else?
A: My role as a GAL volunteer is similar to that of my fellow volunteers: We try to advocate for the best interest of our children in the best way possible, trying to make sure they are safe, healthy and hopefully happy during this difficult time in their lives.
There have been few surprises because of my prior experience working in an inner city environment. To those new to the program or to those interested in it, be aware that it'll take patience, perseverance, understanding and lots of love.
I am one of a few volunteers who is Spanish-speaking and, therefore, the majority of my cases involve Hispanic, Spanish-speaking families. I am fortunate to share cases with my wife, who is also a Spanish-speaking GAL. We are able to connect with the children, their families and often with Spanish-speaking caregivers, without the need for