Clarendon County GAL holds candlelight vigil in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month


Clarendon County Guardian ad Litem Program held its eighth-annual candlelight vigil on Tuesday, April 16. Nearly 50 community members gathered in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month with Clarendon County GAL Program Assistant Valarie Hilton leading the event. Agencies in attendance included Clarendon County Department of Social Services, Santee Wateree Mental Health (Clarendon County) and Clarendon Behavioral Health Services.

Third Judicial Circuit Family Court Judge Ernest J. Jarrett, keynote speaker, provided an overview of the court's role in child welfare and insight as to why judges rely heavily on GAL to be the ears and eyes of the court with GAL's independent investigation, according to a news release from the S.C. Department of Children's Advocacy. "We need the GALs to help us get it right, and those interested in making a difference should volunteer," Jarrett said.

Volunteers and community members lit candles of honor, remembrance, recovery, hope, appreciation and sympathy at the vigil. Music was provided by the Rev. Barney Dozier, a retired law enforcement officer, as well as soloist Emma Vinson and trio Peyton McCray, Kayce McCray and Erinn Riley. Proclamations naming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month were made by Sen. Kevin Johnson and Turbeville Mayor Tammy Hicks and were presented during the event.

Clarendon County GAL Director Celestine Cooper concluded the vigil by reminding the attendees to not only promote child abuse prevention in April, but also to promote it during the months before and after.

To learn how you can get involved, visit for more information and to download an application. Follow @Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem Program on Facebook or contact to be added to the newsletter for updates and local events in your area.

Contact Brandi Johnson, regional recruiter and trainer for the GAL program, at (843) 731-7622 or for more information.