It was nearly fifty years ago on the sandy shoreline of Waimea Bay, Oahu where Carter fell in “love at first sight” with Pauline. Pauline is from Hawai’i and Carter was stationed in Pearl Harbor at the time. He caught his first glimpse of Pauline when she was resting in a tree! She climbed up there to overlook the waves that would someday make Waimea Bay a legendary surf spot. That night in 1969, Carter went home to his military platoon where he told his friends, “I’m going to marry that girl.”
And if you ask Pauline about that day at Waimea Bay, she will say the same, “It was love at first sight.” They are still married. They moved to Maui, raised children together, worked long careers and then retired. Pauline was a school teacher and Carter retired from the military and worked for the Postal Service. The last thing they expected after retirement, was to become parents for a second time around in life. There was a tragic and fatal car accident and suddenly they became full time guardians to their two-year old grandchild.
“It really wasn’t easy at all. Financially and emotionally. But with support it got easier,” Pauline said, “We didn’t know any other families like us, but we found community resources and support groups.”
In their search for answers, they stumbled upon the GRANDcares program that launched educational interventions on Maui and Big Island, Hawaii in 2016. Pauline and Carter were among the first group of grandparents raising their grandchildren who graduated from the seven-week pilot of “Powerful Tools for Caregivers-Grandparents.” The classes in the GRANDcares’ program focus on reducing stress, strengthening communication skills, dealing with difficult emotions, and goal setting strategies.
The next GRANDcares seven-week program begins on Thursday April 5- May 24th 2018, 5pm-7pm. The classes are 90 minutes and prior to this, the grandfamilies are invited to talk story and enjoy a free light meal together. On the Big Island, the grandparent seven week classes will begin on Saturday February 17th-March 31st 2018, 10am-12:30pm. Additionally, this spring the GRANDcares program will introduce Youth Club for children 8- 12 years old who are being raised by a grandparent. The seven-week program offers a complementary curriculum to what the grandparents will learn. Also beginning on Maui April 5th 2018, the classes in Youth Club are designed to build leadership skills, encourage self-confidence, practice communication skills, and learn how to set goals. Registration for both grandparents and grandchildren are now open until April 1, 2018. For more information or to sign up, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I loved getting to know the other grandparents, that was my favorite part about coming to the classes,” Pauline stated, “One of the most important things that Carter and I learned, is not to be afraid to ask for help.”
Since 2016, Pauline and Carter have been advocates for grandparents raising grandchildren in their community. They have continued to attend GRANDcares’ classes and have used their personal experiences to teach other grandfamilies in the program. Their impact has been immeasurable, very much like their love.
Photos and story by Christine Spencer, GRANDcares Site Facilitator, Maui County