Group offers help to Bridgeville area grandparents raising their grandchildren
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For a growing number of grandparents, the tools of retirement aren't a golf club or tennis racket. Instead, it's diapers, day care and teacher conferences.
The 2000 U.S. Census found that over 2.4 million grandparents have responsibility for their grandchildren.
For Bridgeville grandparents who have become part of this statistic, help is on the way.
The Bridgeville Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Program is a new free support group that will meet monthly from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Bridgeville Public Library, 505 McMillen St.
The group's first meeting will be on March 9. It is open to grandparents from Bridgeville and neighboring communities.
The program is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, an international community of religious women that serves people who suffer from poverty, sickness and lack of education, with a special concern for women and children.
The sessions will be run by Sister Georgine Scarpino, a sister of Mercy who started a similar program three years ago in McKeesport that has been met with much success.
She decided to bring it to the Bridgeville area after being approached by a local grandparent who requested similar support in the area.
"They need to get their story out, they need to talk about the challenges and successes and have others who've gone through the same thing to be able to say, 'Yes, I understand what you're going through,'" Sister Scarpino said.
"It's just an opportunity to know that you aren't the only one having this experience."
The monthly support group sessions will give grandparents an opportunity to share their needs and concerns, support one another, hear educational presentations on topics of importance to them, learn about services and assistance, and receive aid from a caseworker when needed.
One of the highlights of the program is a "wellness day" to be offered in the spring and fall at a Latrobe house run by the Sisters of Mercy.
Sister Scarpino said participants will pamper themselves with a day in the country including free back massages, lunch, prayer reflection time, nature walks and a featured speaker.
The support group is something that Sister Scarpino said is near and dear to her heart. Her inspiration to start it came from her grandmother, who stepped in and raised Sister Scarpino's mother and one of her brothers after their parents died when they were small children.
"She was amazing. She didn't have a lot of education, but she worked, she gave them a good home, and they loved her dearly," she said. "Knowing what my grandmother had meant to my mother, it just touched me."
To register for the March 9 program, call 412-422-8020.
First Published March 1, 2012 5:07 am