Saluting our Kinship Families

Sharon Pierce is the former president and CEO of The Villages. 

Dear Friend of Children,

It is likely that you, like me, have countless special memories of a dear grandparent, aunt, uncle or relative who made an invaluable difference in your life! Because my beloved Mom passed away at a young age, it was my Granny McCue and Aunt Peggy who were there for me, as I did all I could to help my Dad and three younger brothers navigate this huge personal loss, yet try to somehow, capture the JOY that life needs to offer each of us, even in the most difficult of times.

This month, all of us at The Villages SALUTE, with UNENDING GRATITUDE, the hundreds of KINSHIP CAREGIVERS we are so honored to partner with throughout Indiana! Grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, even older brothers and sisters, such as SHARVONNE who’s featured this month, are “standing in the gap,” putting their OWN lives on hold. They are embracing a life of perhaps “parenting, the second time around” by opening their hearts, their homes, and their lives to the children in their family circle whose own moms and dads simply are not able to safely care for and nurture them.

Thanks to enormously generous partners like the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Casey Family Programs, the J. E. Fehsenfeld Family Foundation, the Doug and Eileen Williams Family Foundation, and the Junior League of Indianapolis, The Villages established our Kinship Care Program, the FAMILY CONNECTION NETWORK, in 2002 …18 years ago… and has been fortunate to sustain this program with endless family successes and outstanding child and family outcomes. That “staying power” … not just for the eighteen years that often represent “childhood”… but far beyond into a successful and meaningful adult life, is exactly what we desire for EVERY child loved and raised by a kinship caregiver in their family circle!

There is a favorite quote of mine …“Pay it forward, by giving it back…no matter how small!” Each and every kinship caregiver is doing this, and MUCH, MUCH MORE! Won’t you join us in sharing a SEPTEMBER SALUTE to these selfless, everyday heroes, who are “paying it forward” 24 hours a day, every day of the year?!

THANK YOU, Kinship Caregivers, for giving up your OWN life vision, to create a VISION OF HOPE for the children you are hugging and loving EVERY DAY. We are here to support you, on each step of this life-changing journey!

With Deep Gratitude,

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