Grandparents are increasingly assuming the role of raising their grandchildren due to families' crises, including incarcerations, military deployments and other life-altering circumstances. When longtime Prosper community leaders, Ray and Lena Smith, saw the serious challenges encountered by grandparents on fixed incomes in these situations, they took action to assist by establishing the 'Grand Love' nonprofit in 2019.
Lena says Grand Love raises funds to help grandparents who are unexpectedly handling delayed retirement, navigating school systems, bridging generational gaps, finding mental health resources and working through court systems -- all due to devoting themselves to parental responsibilities for grandchildren.
Both of the Smiths fully understand how vital it is to have ample cash flow to raise children, as they personally experienced becoming parents all over again by adopting their grandsons. Ray serves as Farmers Bank president, and has been the mayor of Prosper for the past 15 years. Lena is an innovative North Texas real estate specialist who "believes nothing is impossible."
Shannon Mason, Grand Love director of operations, says the number of related family situations keeps surging as she highlights the following national US statistics:
- More than 3 million grandparents are the sole providers for their grandchildren.
- 8-10 million grandparents are primary providers.
- 1.7 million single grandmothers are the sole provider (49% are unemployed).
- 25% of these heroes fall below the poverty line.
- 25% of these grandparents are disabled.
"For every child in the state foster programs, there are 25 being raised by grandparents or other relatives, saving taxpayers $6 billion per year in Texas alone," says Shannon.
Grand Love aids grandparents by providing food, utility assistance and holiday assistance. 'Grand Summer' is a program that assists with sending grandchildren to camps. 'Grand Scholarships' provide financial assistance to send grandchildren to college. 'Grand Arts' sponsors can 'Adopt a Grand Family' by providing a one-time or monthly support for grandchildren to pursue the arts through classes or camps, including music, dance, theater, drawing and painting.
Shannon says the nonprofit also needs lawyers, therapists, tutors, doctors, dentists and orthodontists willing to bless these families with their volunteer expertise and services.
Annually, Ray and Lena host a "Farms to Table" dinner and silent auction to raise money for Grand Love. This year's event will be Sept. 10 from 5:30-8:30 pm. To purchase tickets for this event or make a donation email firstname.lastname@example.org.