Celebrating 60 Years of Service

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Benefit from Oktoberfest

By Caroline Maddalozzo

Oktoberfest helps support North Shore Senior Center’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program (GRGP), which was initiated in 1998 due to a growing population of grandparents raising their grandchildren and lack of community support to serve the needs of these low-income families. With no geographical restrictions, the program provides emotional support, education, training, respite, financial counseling/assistance and case management services. Currently, 33 active grandparents and 77 grandchildren, ranging from newborns to 18 years of age, are involved in the program and attend monthly support group meetings.

“North Shore Senior Center has more than 19 years of experience meeting the needs of grandparents raising grandchildren who are living at or below the poverty line and do not have the funds for basic necessities. Our organization is the only one in the area that provides a Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program with these comprehensive services,” said Jordan Luhr, executive director of the Center.

“These grandparents are incredibly resilient and provide care for their grandchildren in the midst of experiencing their own difficulties due to aging related obstacles,” said Lexi Corcoran, co-facilitator of the GRGP. She said these families may experience housing issues, specifically finding affordable and accessible housing that will accommodate children. Additionally, there are special legal needs related to adoption and guardianship. Many of the grandparents in the program live on a fixed income or are unable to work full time due to the care needs of their grandchildren. This can cause financial hardship and make it difficult to manage family expenses.

Grandparents and grandchildren meet monthly at the Levy Center in Evanston, where the grandparents discuss topics based on the needs of the group. They also share successes and celebrate them together. In a separate room, the children participate in an educational activity. This year’s theme was “Around the World,” which included lessons about different ethnicities and cultures.

“We work hard to foster the positive environment that these group members have created over the years. It is an honor to provide support and resources as they continually take responsibility in caring for their growing families,” said Lexi.

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