Healthy Grandfamilies Program begins in Beckley

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — United Way of Southern West Virginia and West Virginia State University teamed up to provide grandparents who are raising their grandchildren with resources to help them succeed.

Lavern Jackson Austin and her new husband have been raising her granddaughters since they were young.

“My grandbaby wants to do Ballet. I can’t afford it,” Austin said. “Therefore, what do I say? No I can’t do it right now? And they don’t understand that.”

Austin said it is difficult to raise these children because she cannot provide the resources she believes are important.

“I’m not too proud to say I don’t need help,” Austin said. “We do need help financially and finding other people to help me with the children because we’re older. We’re elderly.”

Executive Director of United Way of Southern West Virginia, Michelle Rotellini, said the program will be helping families through classes held every Monday. These classes will feature topics such as education, social media, communication and more.

“A lot of grandparents didn’t expect to be raising grandchildren at this age and they may be a little out of touch with how things work now,” Rotellini said.

Austin said one of those things was homework.

“Some of the stuff they have in their school books… I have no idea,” Austin said. “I haven’t been to school in years, I’m in my sixties. Some of the things they do in school, I don’t understand it.”

The Healthy Grandfamilies Program will connect grandparents with similar situations and show them they are not alone in needing some extra help.

If you are interested in signing up for the program, call Christina Cowley at United Way at 304-253-2111. For more information on the Healthy Grandfamilies program, visit their website.

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