In 2014 staff at The Grapevine Family & Community Resource Center in Antrim, New Hampshire were seeing and hearing about area families who were raising grandchildren. Together with the River Center Family Resource Center, we created a support group for grand/kinship families, who came and shared their stories, bringing their challenges to light. To talk to others that had a similar experience was validating, comforting and created a sense of shared experience and community.
As we move into the holidays the image of gathering with family, snow, presents, kids playing, and a copious amount of food is the “normal” picture we all see from the outside view. What we don’t talk about is the struggles involved with the holidays, parenting, the financial struggle, the possibility of friction with other family members, or not having family or your children around. This year especially our holidays look very different and potentially stressful with the troublesome COVID-19.
The question is what does this holiday season look like for you, and what are you doing to take care of yourself? What are you doing to stay connected?
In the winter of 2015 while working for a national children’s advocacy organization here in New Hampshire, I began receiving phone calls from grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Many of these grandparents became caregivers due of their child's addiction to opiates. They were looking for information to help them, supportive services for their grandchildren, and in many cases financial support as well.
When you consider the justice system, do you also think of those who are impacted in addition to the individual facing incarceration in prison? All too often, those incarcerated are not thought of beyond being a felon. In reality, most of them are loved members of their families. They are loved mothers or fathers.
In NH, there are an estimated 15,000 children with a parent who is incarcerated. Another way to think of this, is that 1 in 28 children have a parent in jail or prison; that can be visualized as one in every classroom! Therefore, when we impulsively say that we do not know anybody impacted by prison or we have not worked with a child impacted by incarceration, we may have simply never asked the question. (Annie E. Casey Foundation Policy Report, 2016)
“Are you wondering whether your local Family Resource Center is really for everyone in our community?”
The question, posed by the President of Family Support New Hampshire, made me smile as I thought about the Greater Tilton Area Family Resource Center and its effort to ensure community members seeking recovery or working to sustain recovery have access to high-quality support.
As a spouse to someone who developed OUD (Opioid Use Disorder) after a roofing accident, I have experienced many of the heartbreaks and triumphs that come with a loved one affected by the use of opioids. I smile, now, because of how far we have come in the past five years as a State thanks in large part to the efforts of advocates like Lindy Keller at BDAS*, the leaders in the recovery community, and those in recovery becoming strong public voices to share hope, strength, and power to open up recovery pathways beyond abstinence.
I have to admit, I am feeling stretched and challenged. And I sense I am not alone. COVID. Back-to-school. Masks. Race. Remote learning. Social Distancing. Equity. Personal rights. CDC. White. Black. Vulnerable. Internet access.
It’s the end of summer. I long to be thinking about swimming and vacations and iced tea.
I hear parents asking what will school look like this fall for my children? Should we send them back in person? Should they ride the bus? What if we have no choice because of work and childcare issues?