By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
Family Resource Center of Northwest Ohio is offering assistance to grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.
The agency has started a new support group which is open to any grandparent living in Hancock County. Meetings are held at 10 a.m. every Wednesday at the center, 1941 Carlin St.
Jenny Sterling, clinical supervisor, said part of the impetus for starting the group came from Hancock County Juvenile Court.
“The judge wanted it,” she said. “And another thing, we had been seeing trends over the last couple of years just of more and more and more grandparents raising their grandchildren.”
This is a different time than when those individuals were raising their own children, said Sterling.
“Technology, everything is so different. So we thought it would be good to provide them with the support,” she said.
The group began meeting in May.
“It’s a support group, so people basically come and talk,” said facilitator Amy Gibson-Snyder. “And I can offer my input at times when needed.”
She’s also able to help participants who may need assistance with food, money or clothing.
Gibson-Snyder said six grandparents have been attending meetings, including two couples, a grandfather and a grandmother. The grandchildren they’re raising range in age from a preschooler to 13.
Although this group is just for grandparents who live in Hancock County, the Family Resource Center has offices in other communities.
“So if there is a need in another community, we have offices in other areas,” said Sterling.
Gibson-Snyder said they’re also thinking about adding an evening meeting time.
“I have one grandfather that works third shift, so he has to stay awake on Wednesdays to come to it,” she said. “He really enjoys it. I think he is benefiting the most from it so far.”
The grandfather, she said, worked while his wife took care of their own children.
“So he never took care of the kids and now he has a grandkid to take care of,” Gibson-Snyder said. “He’s like, ‘I have no idea what to do’, so it’s been super helpful for him.”
Each session starts with Gibson-Snyder asking participants how the past week has gone and whether they have anything to share.
“They’re very cooperative with each other and they’re very respectful to each other. So far, it’s been really good,” she said.
The idea is for the participants to learn from each other, the facilitators said.
“Just knowing that there’s somebody else out there helps people,” said Gibson-Snyder.
“And they get ideas from one another,” added Sterling. “How did you handle this? So it’s great for that.”
No registration is required to attend meetings, and participants don’t have to be affiliated with the center. Sessions last about an hour.
“Sometimes we go to 11:30, however long they need,” said Gibson-Snyder. “I like to end at 11, but however much time they need, I’m not going to stop them.”
She added that babysitting services may be offered in the future.
Sterling said this type of support is important.
“It’s so important that you feel like you’re not alone, that you have somebody that’s going through the same thing, and just being able to talk to them about it is a big benefit,” she said.
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