Annual picnic recognizes grandparents raising grandchildren

By Rachel Hill - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Thu., Aug. 18, 2011
Pat Thibodeau and her grandchildren attended the 'Grandparents Raising Grandchildren' picnic at South Windsor’s community center on Aug. 11. Photos by Rachel Hill.
Pat Thibodeau and her grandchildren attended the 'Grandparents Raising Grandchildren' picnic at South Windsor’s community center on Aug. 11. Photos by Rachel Hill.

When Nick Jaroszynski was three months old, his grandmother opened her home to him and has been raising him ever since. Nick has into grown a young man who volunteers his time to worthy causes, earns good grades, has good friends and a bright future. And, he says, he owes it all to his grandmother, who he calls “the best parent ever.”

Nick realizes his upbringing may be unusual, but it hasn’t held him back. He and his grandmother have a close relationship and she has a knack, he said, for teaching him right from wrong, all the while infusing her lessons with relatable stories.

Nick’s advice for other grandparents who are raising grandchildren: “Never give up and never back down from a challenge.”

Helping to navigate these sometimes tricky waters is South Windsor Youth and Family Services Parent Educator Ginny Molleur, who runs a monthly support group called “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.” An annual picnic was held at the Charles N. Enes Community Center on Aug. 11 in recognition of this commitment.

The South Windsor and Neighbors (SWAN) support group is just for the adults, so this picnic was an opportunity for the kids to get together and have some fun. “It’s important for them to feel some sort of normalization, to know there are other kids out there who are living the same kind of life,” said Molleur.

There’s no doubt that agreeing to raise a child - or several children - in your later years, after your own kids are grown, takes a rare form of dedication and even courage.

“It comes at a time when they [grandparents] could be enjoying the fruits of their labor in their elder years, but they go ahead and make the choice to take on this responsibility when their friends and family are, perhaps, doing other things,” said Molleur. “They’re giving up an awful lot, but they have the joy of knowing that their family member is safe and well provided for.”

Joan Shapiro attended the picnic and described other guests as “hardcore grandparents” who may have planned to retire, but many of them have made sacrifices and fought instead to complete full adoptions of their grandchildren.

“These kids are blessed to have loving grandparents,” she said. “Everyone here has a story. Lots of times it’s a lifetime commitment that they are making, and they do it for their flesh and blood with a generous heart. They’ve gone the extra mile and are making a wonderful contribution.”

Molleur added, “These grandparents are really the unsung heroes, quietly doing what they need to do. They should have this recognition.”

Nick Jaroszynski, who is a result of a grandparent who rose to the occasion, commented on the process of adoption, with all of its possibilities and challenges, saying, “There is an ocean of dreams out there, you can’t just sit on the sidelines.”

For more information about this and other programs offered through South Windsor’s Youth and Family Services, contact Ginny Molleur at 860-648-6361, ext. 314, or visit http://swan.southwindsor.org.


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