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Seminar Empowers Grandparents

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On Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, Pasco-Hernando State College hosted the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Seminar at the Spring Hill campus. This event, orchestrated by the collaborative efforts of the United Way of Hernando, Parent Academy, the Hernando County School District and Pasco-Hernando State College, was generously sponsored by Win the Day, Krueger City, Sinkhole Titan, Starbucks and Chick-fil-A.

The seminar aimed to enlighten grandparents assuming the responsibility of raising their grandchildren by providing crucial information on available resources and educational options in the county. Angie Walasek, executive director/CEO of United Way Hernando, and Dell Barnes, manager of family and community engagement for the HCSD, the vibrant emcees for the event, set the tone with high energy and encouraged attendees to gain valuable insights from the day’s proceedings.

Angie Walasek conducted a community-wide survey earlier in the year that focused on grandparents in this particular role, and that’s how the event came about. The survey, which garnered 90 responses, revealed a pressing need for support groups, recreational activities, dental options, stress management, grief counseling, information on guardianship and custody, financial aid, counseling, and guidance on special needs and daily living skills.

Respondents who registered for the seminar were asked what they expected out of the seminar, and they expressed a collective desire for resources and support, with a desire to connect with other grandparents facing similar challenges. The seminar was crafted to address these needs, foster a sense of community and provide the required support.

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The venue buzzed with vendor booths offering diverse services and support programs. For more information on these vendors and their different services, see the resources section at the end of the article.

Dr. Amy Anderson, M.D., Provost of PHSC Spring Hill Campus, expressed gratitude for the attendees and acknowledged the dedicated efforts that made the event possible. Dr. Anderson, familiar with the unique needs of grandparents raising grandchildren, emphasized the importance of such initiatives.

Superintendent John Stratton extended gratitude to the community for supporting the school district and acknowledged the hard work of individuals teaching their children and grandchildren. He reassured attendees of a robust academic support community surrounding their grandchildren.

Break-out sessions covering technology (digital learning and online safety), mental health (a proactive approach), and resources (access to available services) provided valuable insights. These sessions underscored the importance of staying connected, understanding digital tools and addressing mental health challenges effectively.

Health resources, including Premier Community Healthcare, The Y, BayCare, NAMI Hernando, the Department of Health Hernando and Hernando Community Coalition, were highlighted, offering services ranging from behavioral health to immediate care and mental health support.
Educational resources showcased included Student Services within Hernando County Schools, Early Learning Coalition, options at PHSC for furthering education, Parent Academy, Hernando County Public Library System, and Students and Families in Transition. These organizations provide a spectrum of services focused on school readiness and quality child care.

Keynote speaker Dr. Brian Dahmer from the Family Chiropractic Center for Wellness delivered an impactful speech on self-care. Stressing the importance of prioritizing one’s physical and mental well-being, Dr. Dahmer emphasized that taking care of oneself is integral to effectively caring for others.

The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Seminar provided vital information and created a platform for mutual support and community-building. The event stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts of various organizations committed to improving the lives of grandparents and their grandchildren.

Dell Barnes wanted to give a personal shout-out to the incredible team of people who helped make this event possible. He extended thanks to Magen Schlechter, director of federal programs; Shanika Figueroa Rodriguez, supervisor of federal programs; Michelle Barnes, ESSA specialists; and Jodie Kanneberg, Family Engagement and Community Center liaison.

Barnes stated, “This team has worked alongside me in getting things organized and synchronized for this event with Angie Bonfardino-Walasek and the United Way of Hernando team. I want to especially thank Jodie Kanneberg for going above and beyond in requesting items from different businesses and organizations for us to bless our grandparents with throughout the event.”

Resources:
United Way of Hernando: https://www.unitedwayhernando.org/
211 Tampa Bay Cares: https://211tampabay.org/
PHSC: https://phsc.edu/
Hernando County School District: https://www.hernandoschools.org/
NAMI Hernando: https://namihernando.org/
Family Chiropractic Center for Wellness: https://www.drbrianchiro.com/
Mid Florida Community Services, Inc., https://www.mfcs.us.com/
BayCare: https://baycare.org/locations/b/baycare-behavioral-health-hernando-campus
Wellcome Om Integral & Healing Education Center: https://wellcomeomcenter.com/
SHINE: https://floridashine.org/
Hernando Community Coalition: https://hernandocommunitycoalition.org/
Kids Central, Inc.: https://www.kidscentralinc.org/
Early Learning Coalition: https://elcph.org/
Community Legal Services: https://www.clsmf.org/
The Y: https://www.ymcasuncoast.org/locations/hernando-county-branch

Summer Hampton
Summer Hampton
Summer Hampton is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in communication focused in culture and media. She is Poynter ACES certified in editing through the Poynter Institute, with a certificate of book publishing obtained through the University of Denver.
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