Around 1970, Kenneth Mackness was a newly appointed probate judge in Grand Traverse County. Judge Mackness saw a need for volunteer assistance to enhance the efforts of the Probate Court staff in their work with juveniles. Through the County’s Juvenile Probation Officer, Ann Mapes, it was arranged with Northwestern Michigan College to have some of their students serve as Volunteer Probation Officers.

The volunteer programs quickly grew, civic minded adults of the community became the bulk of the volunteer force, and the need for a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator was recognized. This first Volunteer Coordinator was Sandra Al-Shamma, who over the years has been succeeded by Susan Dietrick, Frances Rajkovich, Linda Fawcett, and Lindsay Jordan, all of whom made their own unique contributions to the growing and always evolving volunteer programs.

Various volunteer programs have come and gone, changing with the needs of the community. Currently, our volunteers provide services for the 13th Circuit Family Court in transporting juveniles to and from detention facilities, The Learning Partners program, Aggression Replacement Training (A.R.T.) The New Vision Academy, and as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA’s) for children who are victims of abuse and/or neglect. Additionally, the volunteers provide services for the Probate Court reviewing guardianships and providing conservator and guardianship services. These volunteers commit thousands of hours each year to their duties, providing extremely valuable services to the youth and vulnerable adults of our community that otherwise would not be provided.

A more thorough explanation of what volunteers do for each program is provided in the “Volunteer Opportunities” section of this website. Please contact the Volunteer Services Coordinator at 231-922-4827 if you have any questions or interest in being a volunteer for our community.