OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Imagine waking up childless and then going to bed with one or more new additions to your household – your grandchildren.
Countless children in our state are placed in the care of their grandparents after being bounced in and out of state care and multiple homes.
News 4 and First Fidelity Bank pay it forward to a woman who helps this very diverse group of Oklahomans navigate their new and often sudden responsibilities.
Generations – the name of this church – is more fitting than many realize. It is a place church members congregate, but it also a place where many who are raising a second generation – their grandchildren – meet once a month.
“It gives you a place to talk to other people who are going through the same things,” Linda Oliver said.
Linda is one of those grandparents. She is raising her granddaughter, and this place has not only helped Linda find common ground with other grandparents, but also helps her granddaughter feel like she, too, is not alone.
“We bring her here and she gets to see other parents, grandparents and children. So she thinks her family is normal, because she sees other grandparents and children,” Linda said.
Children who meet here spend a little more time with grandma and grandpa than many others their age, and they have often been through far more than any child should.
“It’s good for her to associate with them,” Linda said. “She learns from them. They talk about what hurts them, and they wouldn’t do that with other children.”
A generational safe haven this place is. Linda says her grandmother will most likely continue lifelong therapy, but here, she bonds with other children who may be suffering their own traumas, as well.
“She finally sleeps through the night. We are five, six years into this. She was traumatized,” Linda said. “She wakes up, she’s scared. She’s still afraid of knives. She was neglected. She had to have physical therapy, because her hands didn’t work right.”
“She’s been through a lot.”
“She’s ok now,” Linda said. “We still have the night screams.”
You can’t understand just what this support group means unless you have needed it yourself, and that is why Linda nominated Jackie Jackson for Pay It 4Ward. Jackie is one of the founding members of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
“We are so happy to be able to help you pay it forward to Jackie. She is absolutely doing a great service to the community,” Jessica Landers of First Fidelity Bank said. “On behalf of First Fidelity Bank, I am happy to present you with $400 to pay it forward.”
We step inside, and Jackie is hard at work preparing dinner for the group and is now receiving this Pay It 4ward award.
“Talk about why you do this. You’ve been doing this for a long time.”
“Since 2006, because I’m a grandmother raising grandchildren,” Jackie said. “When you become a grandparent raising grandchildren, you don’t know about the resources that are out there, and a lot of grandparents use their retirement to pay for medical for their grandkids not realizing that they could get Sooner Care automatically.”
Here, Jackie brings in speakers, introduces resources, provides food and, most importantly, loving support.
“She’s fun. She’s loving. She’s caring,” Christa Booker said.
“It gives you somewhere to turn to,” Nancy Grissom said.
Generations provides a place to turn to when grandparents find themselves in a place they never thought they would be.
“Provides a foundation, provides support,” Jackie said. “And just helps all of us.”