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Parenting seniors get some help

A Web site and a support group provide advice and companionship for caregiving grandparents across the county.

By MARYAN PELLAND
Published June 10, 2006


Hernando County has its share of nontraditional families with grandparents at the helm, and it's a situation becoming more common across the country.

Those who expected leisure time suddenly find themselves parenting again, for reasons like death, prison and mental illness. And for grandparents raising grandchildren, there can be few places to turn for help.

But that is starting to change. Hernando County's parenting seniors have a growing support group. It meets monthly at Spring Hill Elementary School, and thanks to group members Vincent and Cindy Kay Roth, a new Web site that offers advice and merchandise.

The Roths, in their 50s, raised two sons and are now raising a teenage granddaughter who has been with them since age 4. They feel lucky.

Their granddaughter is a good kid, they say. Vincent Roth has been able to maintain employment, they have a home and their health is generally good. They have the support group for advice when things get crazy.

Vincent Roth, an experienced Internet user, launched the Web site, www.grandmaandgrandpaluvme.com, to support caregiving grandparents and to sell related products for a special purpose.

He hopes sales can provide college money for his granddaughter.

Brooksville's Dolores Mrozowski, a support group founder, is raising her third generation. Her great-grandson, age 9, came to her at 10 months old. She took custody of her granddaughter, now 27, at 2 months.

"You take them in and love them. It's difficult emotionally for everybody," Mrozowski says.

There's not much government help for people like the Roths and Mrozowski; maybe child support if the parents are found. Some kids qualify for Medicaid. With adoption, Social Security may kick in. Generally, though, the financial burden falls squarely on the shoulders of the senior guardians.

Their grass roots support group is a quest for solace. They organize family events, taking up slack in the absence of a traditional family, turning to each other for advice and companionship.

"It's serious," says Judie Phelps of Spring Hill, who was widowed last year and is raising two granddaughters. "There's a throwaway generation from young parents dropping out of marriage when it gets tough."

Phelps, the group leader, would like to get help from experts in the community who could provide information and mentoring.

"Maybe a lawyer could talk to us. Maybe a therapist or someone from the county. We're open to ideas and to new members," she said.

Maryan Pelland may be contacted at maryan@ontext.com.


SUPPORT INFO
For information about the support group in Hernando County for grandparents raising grandchildren, call Judie Phelps at 666-6885. The Web site started by Vincent and Cindy Kay Roth is www.grandmaandgrandpaluvme.com.


[Last modified June 10, 2006, 08:31:39]


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