Virtual workshop helps empower NYC grandparents raising kids
For grandparents pulling double duty and taking on the responsibility of being the primary caregivers of their grandchildren, a free program is available to help navigate the difficulties.
John Medina and Frances Angel are such grandparents in Brooklyn. Both are recent graduates of that program now offered virtually, called the Empowerment Workshop Series.
"Developing a voice to express what we do for our grandchildren -- but also how to connect that, to present that in a way to advocate, so that we can get more services and help," Medina says.
Professor Carole Cox, who developed the series 20 years ago, says it's different from a support group. She used to host the workshops in-person at Fordham University.
"This is really training people," she said. "We didn't know how it was going to work, but now you have 15 heads across the screen, and they see each other, they talk to each other, they respond to each other and they help each other."
The city's department for the aging adjusted the course when the pandemic hit to seven hourlong zoom meetings once a week. It also equipped the more than 370 seniors with tablets and free internet.
"We were really able to train the grandparents on access to getting on, and they're actually advancing their skills as we move forward," said Helen Flowers with the Grandparent's Resource Center.
The agency hopes to enroll another class in January.
"Knowledge is always power and that's why I guess they call it empowerment series, because that's the best thing -- the best name I could think of because it did empower me to have more power," Angel said.