Mother, grandmother, court guardian and president of a nonprofit charity dedicated to reuniting families devastated by drug addiction, Martha Ahr’s life has been devoted to children.
She answers questions about her volunteer work in Florida’s court system with her own question. “Can you imagine the blow to a child taken from their family?” As a Guardian ad Litem in Palm Beach County’s 15th Judicial Circuit, Martha regularly deals with emotional upheaval. “I’m a friend that never leaves; I talk to the child, I make sure this child trusts me, can call me any time.” She focuses on building that trust and providing basic necessities. “I make sure they have what they need. I’ve learned it doesn’t matter how much a child has, as long as they have the basics.” Her greatest challenge is clarifying court rulings that impact a child’s life, “When explaining decisions made by the judge, what do I tell them?”
Martha’s work as a Guardian led to her involvement in Making Every Day Count, Inc in 2012 and within a short time she assumed the role of president. The nonprofit raises money to assist recovering addicts participating in Family or Delinquency Drug Court which oversees their progress. The charity helps finance treatment, living expenses and accommodates children beyond what the court budget allows for, with backpacks, sports fees, uniforms or guitar lessons. “Our emphasis is to reunite family. The child is in mind for us. If parents or guardians don’t succeed, the child goes into a safe environment.” Under her guidance, Making Every Day Count is expanding services. The nonprofit has sealed an agreement with Uber to transport clients in cases of emergency and has created a new Advocate Program to serve teens.
Occupying a front row seat to the bench for seven years, Martha has been particularly moved by the commitment of two judges. She is honored to have Judge Ron Alvarez on the board of directors of Making Every Day Count because of his tireless efforts in establishing Palm Beach County’s Delinquency Drug Court. She points to Judge Kathleen Kroll as setting the standard at Family Drug Court. “I was able to see first-hand the difference it makes when a judge offers kindness and compassion along with attention to detail from the bench.” Martha’s own commitment to children in crisis is unrelenting, “I don’t stop until I’ve gotten what I want. If I have a passion about something, I won’t stop until I get the right outcome.”
As the oldest of six children in Springfield, Massachusetts, Martha’s politically connected family influenced her view of public service. Her father, Daniel M. Keyes, Jr. was a prominent attorney and judge, “It was normal for him to be on the phone, helping someone. He was so generous and I admired that, so helping others comes very naturally to me.”
Another prevailing influence has been her husband, Dr. David Ahr, “After almost 50 years, he never wavers from a foundation of kindness and generosity.” They’ve lived in North Palm Beach for 41 years and raised five children here. Martha considers the Palm Beach County lifestyle perfect for raising a family. “It combines a casual, coastal lifestyle with the sophistication of wonderful restaurants and cultural gems like the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.” Time spent with her family gave Martha the confidence to get involved with struggling families in the courts. “Experience with my own children told me this was something I could do well.”
Martha takes great pride in the charity’s successes and has come to terms with her own shortcomings as its leader, “Sometimes I take on too much and every day I struggle with all the technology, I’m continually learning.”
One childhood lesson still guides her, “I learned it doesn’t take very much money or degrees to make a huge impact on someone in need.” To exemplify her point, Martha recounts a recent interaction with a single mother she’s been working with for five years. “I told her, ‘I’m proud of you’ and she asked me to repeat what I had just said. When I asked her why, she said, ‘That’s the first time anyone has ever told me that.’”
Martha Ahr, Making Every Day Count for children and their parents.
F – French fries or tater tots? French fries (though being Irish, I love anything involving a potato!)
R – Right brained or left brained? Right brained
E – Email or carrier pigeon? Email (but still love getting birthday cards!)
S – Sunshine or moonlight? Moonlight
H– Homebody or party animal? Toss up!
Making Every Day Count, Inc. will hold its annual fundraiser on November 2, 2017. The Luncheon and Auction will be held at The Country Club at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens. To purchase tickets or to make a donation go to makingeverydaycountcharity.org or email Kerrynjoe@att.net