Have you ever said to yourself “that can’t happen to me” or “that stuff only happens on TV”?
Imagine, you’re 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 oh.. it’s not a movie or a news story. It’s MY life!
That is how I felt back in 2014 when Child Protective Services knocked on my door at 2:00 am with my 18-month-old grandchild in tow. Like some sort of dream, my life began to mirror the events on the nightly news. I was now temporarily responsible for the care and well-being of my grandchild.
My mind races, I have no diapers, what formula does she eat? where are her clothes? How am I going to go to work tomorrow? Where are her parents? Why is this happening to me?
It’s now 3:00 am; everything is a blur, my grandchild is crying, a CPS worker is talking in child welfare lingo. I hear words like… temporary placement, blue forms, court dates and social service forms. I flashback to that news story. In a blink of an eye I am a grandparent raising a grandchild. Everything was happening so quickly. I was not ready to navigate the complex child welfare system in addition to coping with my adult offspring’s addiction issues.
Three weeks passed, I called child-welfare many, many times, and had no contact from my social worker. I’m scared, confused, my world is foreign to me. I felt like I just entered a ‘child welfare twilight zone where pretty much time stood still.’ I began researching, googling and calling. I discovered that Rhode Island had 18k+ and 2 million children across the country being cared for by grandparents; mostly due to the opioid crises.
I was now part of that fuzzy demographic of caregivers. That was my ‘aha’ moment and how the vision for Grands Flourish was born and A Grand Space Workshops came to be. 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 be a safe place to cry but also celebrate successes.
In 2018 the ‘grant gods’ smiled down on me and funds through a Brown University initiative (SAMSHA) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration US Department of Health and Human Services /The Opioid Response Network; helped launch my nonprofit organization.
In hindsight; I think just maybe, I was meant to be sitting on that couch because it was preparing me for the biggest journey of my life!