Support group offered to area ‘grandfamilies’

Posted Jan. 02, 2009, at 9 p.m.

Since I have often written, in this column, about Maine Kids-Kin, a program of Families and Children Together, which is based in Bangor, I was delighted to receive an e-mail from Candy Eaton about a new program for individuals and families residing in Hancock County who are raising their relatives’ children.

For those of you unfamiliar with the mission of Maine Kids-Kin, it is a program, according to its Web site, that “provides services to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and other family members who are raising relatives’ children.”

Eaton is the program director for the Hancock County Children’s Council, a program of Downeast Health Services in Ellsworth.

She wrote that HCCC has partnered with Maine Kids-Kin to start a new support group called “Relatives and Parents.”

That group will meet monthly, on the second Tuesday of the month, with the first meeting scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, at the offices of Downeast Health Services, 52 Christian Ridge Road in Ellsworth.

This first meeting, to help get the program under way, is for adults only, Eaton wrote and, if you are interested in attending, you are asked to call her at 667-5304, ext. 261.

The new Hancock County support group is being offered to help those “families who are raising their relatives’ children,” Eaton wrote of the many families who “have recently undertaken the unexpected responsibility of caring for a relative’s child.”

The first meeting of the support group, she explained, “will be an opportunity … to design future meetings and activities” to help participants “in meeting the challenges of raising your relatives’ children.”

Eaton reminds our readers that, in Maine, more than 11,000 children are living “with their grandparents, aunts, uncles or with another relative” other than their parents and, in some instances, this also includes someone who is a “good friend of the family.”

The term used to describe these living situations is a most suitable one, I believe, for they are, indeed, “grandfamilies.”

If you would like more information about this and other programs of HCCC or DHS, ranging from parent education classes to the Family Resource Center Library, call Eaton at the number above, e-mail children@downeasthealth.org or visit www.downeasthealth.org.

• • •

As Literacy Volunteers of Bangor enters its 40th year, reports executive director Mary Marin Lyon, a November grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation’s State Giving Program has enabled LV-Bangor “to expand volunteer recruitment efforts through a targeted outreach campaign.”

That $15,000 grant, she explained in a press release, will enable LV-Bangor to seek out more volunteers who would be willing to become trained tutors for the growing number of individuals now making up a waiting list to take advantage of the services offered by LV-Bangor.

At no cost to the individual seeking the assistance, Literacy Volunteers helps area adults to improve their reading and English language skills.

Adults interested in volunteering, or adults who would like to improve their literacy skills, can call LV-Bangor at 947-8451 or visit www.lvbangor.org.

For more information about the Wal-Mart Foundation’s State Giving Program, visit www.walmartstores.com and click on Community and Giving.

• • •

Recent information provided by the American Cancer Society Relay for Life gives us the opportunity to congratulate everyone who participated in the first-ever ACS Relay for Life of Katahdin Area, which was held June 20-21 at Stearns High School in Millinocket.

According to information provided by the ACS Relay for Life staff and forwarded to me by Gaile Nicholson of Katahdin Valley Health Center in Patten, that event attracted 235 participants and raised $18,000.

That is a most noteworthy and remarkable accomplishment since, as Nicholson is justifiably proud to point out, “team members were told that most first-year Relay for Life events average $10,000,” and this event nearly doubled that amount.

Nicholson also reported the KVHC team, led by Eliza Currie, “was recognized for raising the most money” after having set a goal of $2,000 and raising $2,366.

• • •

My sincerest sympathies are extended to Pat Bishop and her family on the unexpected death last week of her husband and former Bangor Daily News executive John Bishop.

Although he was a native of Youngstown, Ohio, I believe John was a Mainer at heart who relished working and living among some of its most spectacular areas ranging from the base of Mount Katahdin to the potato fields of Aroostook County and along the Maine coast.

But what I remember most about John was that he was a consummate “chuckler.”

His smile, which really was a permanent, half-grin (along with that chuckle), almost always accompanied one of his greetings which, more often than not, had a good story or two thrown in for good measure.

He will be missed, and remembered well, for his many contributions to this company.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.net; 990-8288.

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