‘Grandfamilies’ honored at holiday event

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.  -- They didn’t plan to raise kids again, but many grandparents in the metro are raising their children’s children. Several Kansas City groups honored those “grandfamilies” Saturday.

Missouri Care community advocate Kim Riley helped put together Kansas City’s first holiday celebration just for grandparents raising grandkids.

“A family is not always mom, dad and kids," Riley said. "We have grandfamilies. Grandparents are stepping in and parenting for a second time around. We’re here to celebrate them, to let them know we acknowledge you, we support you.”

Support came Saturday in the form of a Christmas party with lunch, ornament-making, and photos with Santa.

Wilma Burns is raising her daughter’s three children: one in college, one in high school, and one in middle school.

Burns said, “It’s new. You have to start all over again. And this generation is different from the one that I raised. They live off our income mostly. Because the state doesn’t hardly give us anything for the children so they live off the income that we have coming in for social security.”

Her granddaughter Diamond Smith says 'Granny' is doing a great job.

“She always gives us stuff if we ask for it," Smith said. "She’ll always be there if we’re in trouble or in need of something. She’s always there to encourage me and say you can do it, don’t give up.”

Burns added, “I hope and pray that they grow up to be what God wants them to be, and go to college like they need to, and be on their own and do a good job. And do a good job with their children.”

Community Partners for Saturday’s event included: WellCare Health Plans, Missouri Care Health Plan, Pemberton Park for Grandfamilies, AARP, Children’s Mercy Hospital, LINC, UMKC School of Social Work, UMKC Consortium on Aging, University of Missouri Extension.

Palestine Baptist Church and the UMKC Consortium on Aging have launched a support group for grandfamilies. Visit the church website for more information.