DETROIT – On the second and fourth Thursday of each month, the Fellowship Chapel Church hosts a fellowship event for grandparents raising their grandchildren.
The Grandparents Parenting Again and Kinship Care program allows grandparents to get resources, recharge, and connect with others.
In Michigan, there are more than 165,000 seniors and about 34% of them are raising their grandchildren.
Ora Williams, the founder of GPA, started the group in 2009 after seeing a need through her work with mothers of inmate support teams.
“What I found was that there were a lot of grandparents taking care of children while their children were incarcerated,” said Williams.
Williams said they use the name GPA because they want people to know they are parenting again.
“You don’t get to have that GiGi and those cute little names and be grandma and do all of the fun things,” said Williams. “You’ve got to be the disciplinarian, you’ve got to be the enforcer, you’ve got to be the teacher, all of that because you are now parenting.”
The GPA support group has helped out multiple women with the resources they offer.
“It means the world to me. Why? Because I thought I was the only one out here that was going through this,” said Pamela Frank, a grandparent who has raised her granddaughter since she was six days old.
Geneva Lovelady, a grandparent raising her four grandchildren, said she is glad the program exists.
“It does help us to know that we are just as important as the kids we are raising and we need to have time for ourselves,” said Lovelady.
Navell Jenkins, a grandparent raising her six grandkids, said sometimes she struggles with all of the responsibility but the fellowship she found in the program lifts her up.
“This support group was a lifeline for me,” said Jenkins.
“Sometimes, it takes someone just to say you can do it, and they’re going to be okay and you’re going to be okay too,” said Gwendolyn Swain, supporter and grandparent.
Swain helped raise her grandchildren and now is helping to encourage others.
“Our children, they need someone to love them, and grandparents we love the grandchildren,” said Swain.
Barbara Deboest, 70, is returning the favor after her grandparents raised her while her parents worked.
“I appreciate it. They were angels to me,” said Deboest.
For more information about the Grandparents Parenting Again and Kinship Care program, you can visit their website www.grandparentspak.org or call them at (313)-531-2025.
The group is looking for new members and donations to treat the grandparents to outings so they can do something for themselves.
Trying to find a kingship support group in your county? Click here.