Imagine: You are sitting in your living room, munching cookies, cuddled in a fuzzy blanket and a news story grabs your attention. You say to yourself, “Wow, am I glad that’s not me.” And then days later you realize, it’s not a movie or a news story. It’s MY life!
With little notice I was parenting again. Navigating the child welfare system, juggling childcare, work, and learning about substance use disorder while assimilating to new family dynamics was challenging. When my granddaughter came to live with me, it happened suddenly. I had no diapers, formula, crib or childcare. There were few, if any, resources for someone in my situation. I felt like I had entered a ‘child welfare twilight zone.’ I began researching, googling and calling.
I discovered that Rhode Island had 13,000 and 2.5 million children across the country being cared for by grandparents or “grandfamilies” mostly due to the opioid crisis. I was now part of this fuzzy demographic of caregivers. That was my ‘aha’ moment and where the vision for ‘Grands Flourish’ was born.
I envisioned a grandparent’s hub, a place where grandparents can connect to community, share their stories, engage in support groups, learn about resources and celebrate successes.
In the past year we have provided services and referrals to over 300 grandparents connecting them with refrigerators, air conditioners, fuel assistance, cribs, toys, food, housing, peer-support and attorney referrals.
We have only just begun. With your support and donations we can assist so many more grandfamilies and act as a beacon of light for those whose lives have become dark in the midst of a complicated and intertwined drug epidemic.
Best – Magdalena