Grandfamilies Together: The Salvation Army offers a support group for caregivers

“It’s not a duty, it’s from the heart.”

BRIDGEPORT – “I love it, I can’t help it, I was there from day one,” said Gloria Hunt of Milford, who is always there for her grandnephew, Xavier. “His mother was having issues where she couldn’t take care of him.”

So, she went to court to become his caregiver in order to keep him out of foster care, a role she didn’t expect to have at 68.

“It’s a lot of work, I forgot what it is, I raised three of my own,” she said.

Hunt, who had to stop working and lives in a retirement home with the toddler, scoured the internet for help and found a unique program run by the Salvation Army.

“Of course, we needed food from the pantry and diapers,” says Hunt.

“We can help them with the mortgage, the rental, the electricity,” adds Jacqueline Balarezo who is passionate about her work with the Grandfamilies Together program in Bridgeport. There are a similar group in Hartford.

Statistics show that stressors from the pandemic have forced more older people to take care of younger family members.

Balarezo says some situations don’t work. Other relationships like the one between Gloria and Xavier flourish.

“You see, she’s full of life, full of energy, she takes this baby and is proud to take this baby,” Balarezo says.

“It is not a duty, it comes from the heart”, says Gloria who hopes that the boy will find his mother one day. Until then, she will continue to raise the child with the help of the Salvation Army.

“I hope other people will see this and know it exists and take advantage of it if they need to,” says Gloria. “I was blessed, really. “

Grandfamilies Together meets twice a month with around 25 participants.

Click on here for more information.

Virginia S. Braud