Sunday, Sept. 8, is Grandparents Day, which conjures up thoughts of visits to grandma’s house and grandma and grandpa making the most of the time they share with the grandkids by spoiling the little ones and sneaking them treats. However, more and more often, grandparents are taking on the responsibility of being their grandchildren’s primary caregivers.
Grandparents who are playing a new role as parents to their grandchildren are faced with a lot of challenges as they parent a new generation. There are programs to help them adjust and, thanks to Howard Grossman, who is Pittston Memorial Library’s fundraising director and also chairman of the NEPA Intergenerational Coalition, the library is on the forefront of that effort, hosting two monthly meetings for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.
Pittston Memorial Library hosts Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Coalition meetings at 2:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month.
The library also hosts a Pittston Support Group for GRGs, which meets at noon the last Monday of the month. Discussions involve what is on the mind of the GRG families, and what issues they are facing.
“Pittston, like many other communities, has several GRG families. In fact, about two years ago, I learned that there are about 52 families having GRG in the Pittston Area School District,” Grossman said. “The need is strong here as it is elsewhere in this county and adjoining counties.”
Support for caregiver grandparents will culminate with NEPA Intergenerational Coalition’s 13th annual Conference for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at the Woodlands Inn and Resort, Plains Twp. The event will feature more than 40 vendors and a dozen speakers, including keynote speaker WNEP’s Scott Schaffer, who was raised by his grandparents.
This year’s theme is “Generation of Love,” and the message and itinerary is similar to last year’s program, which attracted 200 people to the conference. According to Grossman, the coalition felt this year’s theme speaks to all families and that it was worthy of repeating.
“It is important to celebrate GRG because ‘the second time around’ has special significance for children being raised through GRG families and this demographic is growing across the nation,” he said.
Attendees can expect the latest information from all of the organizations at the conference, and can become familiar with the support groups available. Attendees also can meet other GRG families that are facing the same challenges, and expand their areas of knowledge to more effectively raise the youngsters in their care.
“The GRG effort is a wonderful way to enhance the information base for GRG families and showcase GRG events for the GRG community, which is growing across this region as it is in the Commonwealth and nation,” Grossman said.
“The conference was very informative. Mr. Grossman always has speakers on current and relevant topics on grandparents raising grandchildren in today’s society,” said Edward Matkins, 71, who, along with his wife, Arline, is helping raise their 9-year-old granddaughter, Madison, after her parents divorced. They both attended last year’s conference.
In their case, their daughter is still involved with Madison’s care, but since she is suffering with breast cancer, much of the responsibility of raising their granddaughter falls on their shoulders.
“With today’s economic environment, daughter and granddaughter continue to live with us and we provide emotional and financial support,” he explained.
Matkins said the speakers at the conference offer information and guidance on a variety of topics.
State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski will talk about state legislation as well as a new foundation he has formed to help eligible GRG families secure funding for legal counsel. Members of the legal community also will be on hand to help grandparents learn about their rights and responsibilities.
All GRGs are invited to attend the conference free of charge. Cost for professional social service personnel is $35. A hot lunch and breakfast snacks are included. Checks may be made payable to Luzerne Foundation GRG Fund. For information or to register for the conference, contact Grossman at 570-262-3443 or firstname.lastname@example.org.