According to the U.S. Census, more than 2.7 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Out of this number, one-fifth are living below the poverty line.
Last year on January 17, 2016, Arvella Warren, a local resident of Dallas, was reading the Dallas Morning News and came across an article entitled, “More grandparents are caring for young kids,” written by Alejandra Cancino. The article tells us a brief story about a Chicago grandmother named Debra Aldridge who at the time the article was written, had been her grandson’s primary caregiver for 11 years. At the time, Ms. Aldridge decided to care for her grandson, she was only making $7.50/hr. Unless her finances have improved significantly, she is still living below the poverty line.
Ms. Warren was overwhelmed by what she read that day and immediately sprang into action. She thought to herself, “Lord, what can I do to help? I only have a high school diploma.” But Ms. Warren had much more than a high school diploma; she had a church family and a network of friends, who were in a position to conduct the necessary research, to help her create a non-profit which would benefit hardworking Grandmothers. Through a conversation with her Pastor offering sage advice, she got a brief overview about the importance of setting up a non-profit, 501c3. However, it was the help she received from her circle of four friends which developed into a non-profit now known as “A Break for Grandmother”. They too sprang into action and started writing out Ms. Warren’s vision as she helped them see the need for such an organization. By the way, Ms. Warren mentioned to us, none of the members on the Board or herself have been faced with having to raise any of their grandchildren. Truly, their giving comes purely from the heart and being able to see outside of themselves.
Every month, one special grandmother is selected and presented with gifts from the ‘A Break for Grandmother’ Board Members at the Golf Club of Dallas in Southern Dallas. Last weekend, Mrs. Vivian Coe was the honoree. It was her daughter who caught the attention of the Board with the letter she wrote to them, about how her mother has been successful at raising her two nieces. Leslie Shay Cooper, the oldest, majored in History at college and is an elementary school teacher in the Houston Independent School District. The youngest granddaughter, Kaylie Ann Cooper is a senior in high school and has already been accepted at the University of Houston. Her plan is to major in Nursing and eventually work in the area of assisting with in home childbirths as a midwife.
In front of all the guests who attended the special celebration of Grandmothers at the Golf Club of Dallas, Mrs. Coe was crowned with a tiara, then she was presented with flowers, $100, a mani and pedi gift certificate, a plaque and a resolution from Commission John Wiley Price which stated, “Be it resolved, that I Commissioner John Wiley Price, with great admiration joins “A Break for Grandmother” in celebration of Mrs. Vivian Coe.”
Mrs. Coe’s daughter, Tahndra Clark Cooper, passed away after giving birth to her youngest daughter, Kaylie, due to health complications which existed during pregnancy and after she gave birth. At the time their mother passed away Kaylie was only 5 weeks old, and her big sister was only 5 years old. “There was never any question about who my grandbabies were going to live with; it was just the right thing to do. My daughter and her husband had moved right down the street from me when she passed, so they were always close by, but her Dad also agreed it would be best for them to be with me.” Mrs.Coe was happy to accept the Honor of being grandmother of the month, however she mentioned, it feels a little odd to be honored for something you love doing.
Mrs. Coe was being honored because she met the Board’s criteria for special honoree of the day. The grandmother has to be at least 62-years old or older and have full custody of at least one grandchild for a full year.
Later on that evening, guests were entertained by a very talented mime duo made up of a set of twins namedT’Rah and T’Ranie Walker that minister under the name of ‘Silent Praise’. The two moved to the sounds of Marvin Sapp’s tune entitled, “My Testimony.” Unless you were dead, you were definitely moved spiritually by their performance.
Local radio and television host, Chris Arnold was the guest speaker. He started broadcasting when he was 14 years old, which means he has been in the radio business for over 40 years. Mr. Arnold spoke fondly of his grandmother as he looked out into the audience of mature women and children, who had accompanied their grandparents for the special evening. “Grandmothers have a special way of talking to their grandchildren and sparing their feelings. When I was coming up, I thought I could sing. I would say grandma, “Can I sing?” and she’d say, “Yes, but that’s not your song.” Of course after saying this, everyone loosened up a bit as they giggled and laughed at Mr. Arnold’s story. He later looked towards the founder of ‘ A Break for Grandmother’, and said, “Arvella Warren, you have a vision. People just don’t know it yet. Grandmothers raising kids after their kids are grown and then they get another set of kids to raise.” Well, the bottom line is, if you are a grandmother raising your own grandchild or grandchildren, you are doing it because God chose you to do it.
We want to send a special shout out to the Board Members of ‘A Break For Grandmother’ – Jetta Ewells, Rosalyn Sutton, Mary Wesley, Arvella Warren and Jacqueline Harris for making the evening a very special night to remember.
For more information about this non-profit, go to their Facebook page entitled, ‘A Break For Grandmother.’
By: Arielle Johnson