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‘The Grandma Club’: Four generations put family first

Meet the Jackson Family

Camp Hill, Pa.

Just before her first birthday, Grace Jackson began regressing in milestones, mom Suzanne recalls. “She was my third child,” Suzanne says, “and I knew everyone develops differently. But things got worse and she was falling.” Thanks to early intervention services, funded by the state of Pennsylvania, Grace was diagnosed with a genetic condition and the family began the process of helping Grace progress.

“Grace uses a walker, hearing aids and glasses,” Suzanne says of the supports she receives through Medicaid. “And even though she has speech limitations, she is incredibly resilient, determined, persistent and outgoing. After spending time in a transitional classroom, she now participates in the typical classroom, so we’re thrilled.”

Thanks to supplemental speech therapy she also receives through Medicaid, and her own hard work, Grace, now six years old, is fully engaged in her schoolwork, excited about worksheets, and can write both her first and last names.

Suzanne works at a nonprofit and her husband, Carl, is in pharmaceutical sales. With Grace’s medical challenges, and two older children to care for, the family had time for little else, including the couple’s volunteer work with a youth group at their church. Then something remarkable happened. Suzanne’s 88-year-old grandmother, Bernice, began babysitting Grace for a few hours on Sundays. Soon after, the group grew to include Suzanne’s mother, Nancy; aunt, Marie; and second cousin, Esther.

“It began as an opportunity to serve in our church community,” Suzanne says. “But it quickly became a necessity for the women.” Grace dubbed this weekly session, “The Grandma Club,” and created a song and dance for it. “This activity brings joy to everyone.”

During the time spent tending to Grace, “The Club” members have found strength and motivation that helps them set aside, if only for a few hours, the difficulties and health issues they face in their own lives. “Playing dolls and having tea parties is exactly what these grandmas need,” Suzanne adds. “It has made a significant impact on our family through four generations.”

Thank your legislators for making Human Services funding a priority in the 2017-18 Pennsylvania budget.

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