Grandparents for Choice

By Alkinee Jackson

It’s safe to guess that most parents can’t wait to retire and finally have an empty nest. With the responsibilities of a career and child-rearing behind them, they can finally embark on a journey filled with leisure and relaxation, living for themselves, without consideration for anyone else. They would have paid their dues to society and would now be in the clear.

While doing outreach work in my community, I’ve been honored to meet a group of Baton Rouge area grandparents who aren’t quite ready to relieve themselves of such responsibilities. In fact, they believe that they can still have a great impact on the next generation of their families. These grandparents have decided that they want to continue to contribute to their communities. They have dedicated themselves to answering the call to see not only their grandchildren reach further heights in life through education, but ALL children.

Many of them serve in their local churches and community clubs. They are seen as the cornerstone of their communities. They come from diverse backgrounds, but all share one mission: They want to see the next generation given opportunities they weren’t afforded. Several of them have candidly shared that they don’t want their grandchildren to have to deal with the various challenges they’ve had to face because of their illiteracy. This passion to see the next generation soar is what drives them to stay engaged and encourage others to do the same.

Thankfully, these engaged advocates have decided to partner with Louisiana Federation for Children to help protect choice in our state. These ladies are often at the forefront of our mobilization efforts. Since they are retirees, their schedules have allowed them the flexibility to engage on a greater level.  They’ve testified before legislative committees, with their stories touching even the hardest of hearts.  They have shared their stories through various media platforms and have served as liaisons within their respective schools.

I am grateful for their partnership and dedication and want to always make sure they feel my appreciation. I feel it’s important for them to know that we don’t want our partnership to be one-sided. We want to build lasting relationships with them and their families. That is the heart of our grassroots work. We are always looking for ways to foster relationship building.

This month we hosted a “Painting for Choice” Night, where our grandparents for choice were invited to paint the night away. This night gave them an opportunity to let their hair down and just have fun! One of the ladies remarked that after a long week of taking care of everyone else, that night was just what she needed.

Each lady had the option to paint whatever she desired. Our painting instructor made all of them feel as if they had been painting all their lives. I learned a valuable lesson from our instructor that evening. She took what initially seemed like an impossible task and broke it down into small attainable actions.  At the end of the night, we all stood in amazement at what we had accomplished.

As we continue to build our army who will fight to protect and expand choice in our state, we will endeavor to remember to take time to keep the troops happy and to always help them see the small victories along the way.