Sarah Mammarella, MS, RD, facilitator of The Richmond County Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group, is extending an invitation to members of the community to join the group.
The support group was started because many grandparents are currently raising their grand kids. In North Carolina, there are more than 135,000 grandparent headed households, said Mammarella.
Most grandparents are not expecting to take care of their grand kids and/or their great-grand kids, so therefore they have not saved enough money nor have the adequate living space for them, Mammarella said.
A quarter of the grandparents actually live in poverty, she said.
Some of the reasons why there are so many grandparents who are raising their grand kids include drug use, teenage pregnancy and economic hardship, she said.
Mammarella also said that grandparents are not able to enjoy their grand kids as grandparents since they are actually the ones who are raising them.
In order to join the group all you have to be is a kinship caregiver. One of the problems for kinship caregivers is that they don’t get as much assistance compared to foster parents, she said.
Joining the support group will allow the members to learn about various resources, among other things, in order to help them cope with raising minors.
“Some of these grandparents don’t know what is available to them here,” Mammarella said.
“It’s not only support for them in terms of discussing issues with fellow parents raising their grandchildren, I also seek out opportunities for them to be informed in different areas such as budgeting, stress management, legal help and I also inform them of various assistance opportunities in the county,” she said.
Mammarella also said that since some relatives are not the child’s official guardian yet, they can face a lot of problems when trying to get support, as well as going through the courts.
“Unless the parents sign over their parental rights to the grandparents, it is a constant battle with custody and/or adoption,” Mammarella said.
Mammarella is looking forward to welcoming new members to the support group.
“The biggest thing for me is that I want them to have one thing to look forward to every month that will build them up and show them fellowship and support,” she said.
The support group meets on the last Thursday of the month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Hamlet Senior Center, located at 102 Veterans Drive in downtown Hamlet, and is managed through the Lumber River Council of Governments.
If you have any questions or would like to join the support group, contact Mammarella at 910-997-8255.
— Staff Writer Iris Hunter can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.