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  • Support spans generations

    1 posts, 1 voices, 329 views, started Jan 7, 2009

    Posted on Wednesday, January 7, 2009


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      Support spans generations

      By RENEE TOMASEK, Special to the Times Union
      First published in print: Tuesday, January 6, 2009
      ALBANY — Four years ago, Nydia Morales tapped into a network of people like herself and a staff that cares about them. She joined Catholic Charities Kinship Care program.

      “I participate in their meetings, workshops, get-togethers, and we have speakers come in to give us information,” said the 64-year-old grandmother who is raising Hector, 10 and Juleesa, 6, at her home in Albany.

      “The workers there are fantastic and very helpful. When you have an issue, they go out of their way,” she said. The atmosphere at Kinship meetings is comfortable, she said, with tables set out with coffee and snacks. During the meetings, the children play games and have snacks in a gym or another room at the site. Among the speakers have been experts on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, which has helped Morales care for her grandson who has ADHD.

      Larry and Pat McBride of Guilderland know how exhausting it can be raising grandchildren. He’s 66. Pat’s 67. Their granddaughter is now 12. They’ve been part of the Kinship program for eight years. Larry said “the support factor” is key. Those at Kinship are “cordial and welcoming; it’s like seeing old friends,” said Larry.

      For more than two decades, the Kinship program has helped relatives raising children, primarily grandchildren. Social services, legal services and support groups provide a safety net for the families. There’s also help with homework, summer camps and weekend family camping. Last year, the staff added a youth program coordinator.

      During school vacations, Kinship offers opportunities for reading, outings and other activities. Sometimes, prizes are awarded to keep the kids engaged and having fun, including tickets to circuses, Christmas music programs and baseball games, said Larry. Last month, Kinship also helped families by providing Christmas gifts for their children.

      The McBrides like the fact that the program brings together others in the same boat as them. “It’s the most beautiful bunch of people that you’ll meet,” Larry said.

      In these harsh economic times, “It’s getting more and more difficult,” said Renee Benson, executive director of Catholic Charities Caregivers Support Services, and the number of people in search of support is on the rise. “They‘re on fixed incomes and they were never prepared to raise children at this time in their lives,” said Benson.

      While there is no direct financial aid to the families, Kinship serves as a link in a wider network, said Jodi Rosa, Kinship Care program director.

      Occasionally, people call and want to donate things like furniture. “Other support comes through the state funds and we can help Kinship participants get that,” Rosa said. “We help them make the connections.”

      Nydia Morales said her grandchildren love the programs offered by Kinship, and they can’t wait to begin attending again in the new year.

      Renee Tomasek, a Schalmont High School senior, is a member of the New Visions Journalism and Media Studies class at the Times Union.

      Kinship Care help For information on Kinship Care Support Services, an agency of Catholic Charities of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, go to [Link Removed] or call 449-2001.

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