Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- These days, for a lot of reasons, grandparents are raising their grandchildren. When that happens, it creates all kinds of challenges for the children and the grandparents. Our Time To Care winner for August is a man who spends his time making sure those families have the support they need.
Elizabeth is a lot like any 7-year-old girl. When you ask what she's been doing over the summer break, the answer is pretty typical.
"I've been riding my bike and playing in my room and coloring," she says with a shy smile.
But in her case, she has a room at her grandmother and grandfather's house.
"I like living with them and playing with them & stuff," Elizabeth said.
Alva Anderson is her "Mamaw."
"All a sudden you hear, Mamaw! Mamaw! Come here I need you, Mamaw! 24/7," Anderson said.
The Anderson's are part of a growing trend in Augusta. Mike Patton sees it every day.
"Over the last 10 to 12 years there's been a growing number of grandparents who've had to step in and take care of their grandchildren. To raise their grandchildren full time," Patton said.
Patton is the coordinator of the Healthy Grandparents program at GRU and our Time To Care Award winner for August.
"We're dealing with some kids that have been exposed to some things at an early age that they shouldn't have been exposed to," he said.
"It's a situation that leaves grandparents to come in, pick up the pieces and provide stability."
Anderson, who doubles as Mamaw knows the story well.
"A lot of people don't realize that a lot of grandparents are raising their grandkids because of what their kids have done," she said.
What Mike offers is a year-round lifeline to families like the Anderson's with Christmas parties, health screenings and school supplies. They offer legal services for grandparents who want custody. He's here for the kids too.
Anderson remembers the time she took Elizabeth to the Krock Center to go swimming.
"He told her he'd come over and see her go down the big slide in the swimming area and he went over and kept his promise to her," Elizabeth said. "Well, he didn't do down the slide. He really wants to, though."
It's a memory that leaves Elizabeth grinning from ear to ear.
She can smile now. A year ago things weren't so great at home. First grade was a challenge. But now?
"For a little girl that's been through what she went through, she made straight A's in school, A honor roll, citizenship award," Anderson said.
All thanks to grandparents who care and a guy like Mike Patton who makes it his mission to help people who find themselves raising their children's children. Mike says his program at GRU is free to people in Richmond and Columbia counties. There's not a lot of paperwork or any kind of financial requirements-- just help.
To find out more- give Mike Patton a call at GRU at 706-721-6227.
News 12 wants to thank to our Time To Care partners for making this award possible: Academy Sports and Outdoors and Subway. If you'd like to nominate someone for our monthly award, you can find a nomination form on this page.