All Hands on Deck: Volunteer Guardians Needed; Volunteers Advocate for Those Who Cannot Advocate for Themselves

(Walworth County submission) The Walworth County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has an urgent need for volunteer guardians. Volunteer guardians are court-appointed decision makers for adults with mental incapacities. Guardians advocate for their wards’ best interests. Currently, 13 volunteer guardians serve 31 wards. The upcoming retirement of two longtime volunteers will leave several adults without guardians, creating a critical void.

“Guardians play a vital role in our communities in helping those who can no longer help themselves,” says Walworth County Volunteer Services Director Colleen Lesniak. “The individuals in need do not have family or friends that can be of assistance. Our volunteer guardians fill that critical role of making important health care and financial decisions to ensure these individuals’ needs are being met.”

While the hours are flexible and can vary, volunteers should expect to spend about 5 hours per month helping their clients. Typical responsibilities include working with professionals to make decisions for their wards, giving formal approval of care and services, advocating for and protecting their rights, visiting at least once per month, and making applications for services and financial benefits on their behalf. There is a monthly stipend available for volunteers. No formal experience is necessary; simply an interest in helping others. Volunteers must be at least 21-years-old and have a valid driver’s license.

For more information on the program or to complete a volunteer application, please contact Colleen Lesniak at Walworth County Volunteer Services at 262-741-4223 or email

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