AUGUSTA, Ga. – Augusta University Nursing’s “Healthy Grandparent” program is making sure their grand kids have gifts under their Christmas trees and get into the spirit with other festive activities. Organizers tell us it can get tough financially during the holiday season.
“My daughter made some bad decisions. And I had to get my grand kids, and I didn’t want them to go into a foster home. They went to foster care for a year before I actually got them. And after a year if you don’t get them you lose them no matter what,” says Barbara Tate, a grandparent of the program.
Grandparents like 66-year-old Barbara Tate share a common story of other grandparents who step in and take care or even adopt their grandchildren while facing a lot of hardships, like financial support.
“Especially for those who are retired and living on fixed incomes. It can get real tight, real quick when you add 2, 3, 4 kids in the mix that chosen to be responsible for for a variety of reasons. Issues surrounding why with the grandparents, variety of situations with the parents,” says Mike Patton, Program Coordinator of ‘Healthy Grandparents’.
For the past 21 years, the ‘Healthy Grandparents’ program has helped grandparents obtain full legal custody and/or adopt them. More than 100 kids have been adopted and 200 plus custody petitions in the programs’ existence. Organizers attribute that success to Attorney Stacy Fowler and Mark Williamson, who were both recognized at the programs’ Christmas party hosted in the Julian Smith Casino.
“That’s a big task for these attorneys to come in and do that mean children over the years. And for these grandparents to be able to establish some type of legal arrangement with their grandchildren. It’s such a need for these grandparents,” says Patton.
Different stations of holiday crafts were available for the grand kids to enjoy, along with Christmas gifts that were donated by donors and will be passed out by Santa Claus.
Grandparents tell us this event is very helpful during the holidays, but the support doesn’t stop there.
“Enrolling them into music classes and swimming classes. I couldn’t financially do it myself, you know? And I think this is a good thing,” says Tate.
Organizers tell us 114 kids will walk away with a Christmas gift thanks to donors and the Augusta community, who shows endless support of the ‘Healthy Grandparents’ program throughout the year.