To Sweetie, Love Gramma

Global Grammas Video

Our ‘Grammas Give Back’ story on TV News

I was awake early this morning lying in bed looking at the old clock radio.  It was a wedding present given to us by good friends in 1983.  It was very modern at the time…all boxy with big green digital numbers and fake plastic wood stuck to the sides so it looked “natural”.

I suppose we could replace it if we wanted to, but it’s the clock whose soft *click* wakened my husband every morning of his teaching career…most days around 6:00 a.m. but sometimes as early as 3:00 a.m. if there was an early start for a school ski trip or camp-out or some other adventure that needed a teacher-sponsor-chaperone to make sure the kids were safe, cared for and brought back from the brink of disaster if necessary.  He has always been remarkably good at taking care of other people’s children.

Now that we have retired, the clock has moved to my side of the bed…not that it gets me up early or anything like that.  Since retiring, we have adopted a “wake up when you’re done sleeping” rule.  Funnily enough, we got this rule from the same good friends who gave us the clock.

Edda Melkorka finds "Too Many Pets"

Anyway…my daughter Robyn and I write and publish books about my granddaughter, Edda Melkorka, who is a nine year old Icelander with Canadian roots.  Edda is an amazing little girl whose knowledge of the world around her is pretty impressive given her age.  When asked what we should do with the money earned from selling books, Edda said she wanted to help other kids who don’t have Grammas.

We put some thought into how we could help kids who don’t have Grammas and contacted Covenant House in Vancouver, BC to see if there was a way to help other than just sending money.  We found out that Covenant House has a program for helping kids move into stable housing after having aged out of foster care or been kicked out of home or having left home on their own for one reason or another.  Many of these kids (aged 16 to 24 years old… just babies!) have no family support and that’s where Global Grammas comes in. We adopted the name “Global Grammas” for our organization because there are Grammas (and Grampas) the world over who care for other people’s kids.

CovenantHouseAnd Grammas are the ones who are at the downsizing stage of life so they have lots of stuff that they are ready to let go of…sheets, towels, pots and pans, dishes, blankets, pillows…stuff like that.  All of these are the things needed to set up a new home and when you’re a kid who’s been couch surfing or living on the street, it’s unlikely you have any of these things.

Covenant House gave us a checklist of things they like to provide to kids moving into stable housing and we put together Home Start-Up Kits.  I shop at the Healthcare Auxiliary Thrift Store for good quality household items and it’s truly amazing what you can find for a dollar or two.  I go to Dollarama for the things that need to be new like toilet brushes, brooms and hygiene items.  Sometimes I need to go to a department store for things like a desk lamp or a clock radio and even though the book sales have not yet covered the costs of publication, none of the items for the Home Start-Up Kits are very expensive.

Starter_ClockThe Covenant House checklist includes the very basics for setting up a first home.  I like to include a few extras like pot holders and a cookbook and a little bag of these things you always want to have on hand like twist-ties, rubber bands, Band-Aids and a note pad.  Each kit also includes a To Sweetie Love Gramma Letter that assures the recipient of the kit that they are loved and worthwhile.  That’s an important message to get when you are coming from a dark place and trying to move forward with your life.

We decided on the name To Sweetie, Love Gramma for our charitable program and the kits are fun to put together…sort of a reminder of when we were helping our kids into their first homes.  My husband insists he is not part of Global Grammas but his patience with the bags and boxes stacked in our basement tells me different.  He quietly rolls his eyes when I arrive home with bags of stuff from the Thrift Store and drives his truck down to Vancouver loaded with the boxes of Home Start-Up Kit for delivery to Covenant House.  He’s still taking care of other people’s kids whether he admits it or not.

Each Home Start-Up Kit includes a clock radio.  Unlike the one beside my bed, these clocks are bright and shiny with their histories yet to be made.

Until next time…

Gramma Catherine

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