Message of love for children offered at annual Interfaith Tea at Temple B’nai B’rith in Kingston
KINGSTON — The song fit perfectly into the theme of Tuesday’s 67th annual Interfaith Tea.
Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me,” sung by the Wyoming Valley West Middle School Chorus, exemplified the purpose of the gathering of more than 150 members of the Interfaith group.
“For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I’ll be forever thankful
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me.”
Those lyrics resonated through the Bergman Auditorium at Temple B’nai B’rith. The song, coupled with inspirational readings offered by members of area congregations, were the prelude to the featured speaker, Howard Grossman, chairman of the board of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Inter-generational Coalition.
Grossman’s topic was “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.”
When Grossman asked attendees how many either knew of or were actively participating in the raising of grandchildren, several hands went up.
“This shows how this issue has grown and continues to grow in our area and across the country,” he said. “In Luzerne County alone, there are 6,231 households where grandparents are raising their grandchildren.”
Grossman’s message hit home with the audience, many of whom said they are well aware of the issue and how it is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society.
“Many grandparents are raising children for the second time around,” Grossman said. “And many times, these are difficult cases.”
Grossman said many grandparents find themselves in the middle of custody cases, admitting custody of grandchildren is sometimes difficult to obtain. He said efforts are ongoing in Harrisburg to pass legislation that would establish programs to assist grandparents as they struggle to raise their children’s children.
Many times parents get involved with substance abuse and lose their parental rights, he said. He said awareness is a key to helping those affected and he and the NEPA Inter-generational Coalition are advocating for a statewide survey to determine key issues faced by grandparents and to better understand what is needed and what they feel should be done.
Grossman said there are support groups available in Hazleton, Wilkes-Barre, Tunkhannock and Pittston that meet regularly to discuss issues confronting grandparents raising grandchildren. He said groups in Scranton and Dallas are trying to re-start after ceasing operation.
Grossman urged the attendees to contact their state legislators to ask them to support legislation that would assist the grandparents.
Beverly O’Borski, president of the Church of Women United, offered a reading.
“Today, we hope you are inspired to change the life of a child around you,” O’Borski said.
The lyrics of the song again resonated with the group.
“You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ‘coz you believed
I’m grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don’t know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was loved by you.”
Women from various congregations throughout the Wyoming Valley who have worked together for nearly seven decades to promote and foster cooperation of all faiths attended the Interfaith Tea.
Grossman said the NEPA Inter-generational Coalition was created to build an extensive support system and advocacy network for grandparents and family caregivers raising grandchildren.
According to the U.S. census, 4.9 million American children were being raised solely by their grandparents in 2010.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.