By Emma Wolff

Barbara Covey is one of more than 60,000 grandparents in Arizona who are responsible for raising their grandchildren. Across the U.S., this number is estimated to be more than 2.6 million.

Raising grandchildren is nothing short of life altering for grandparents who have stepped up to the plate because of extenuating circumstances. Luckily, for Covey and her family, they have help from Duet: Partners In Health & Aging’s kinship services.

Duet offers support for grandparents raising grandchildren through free-of-charge support groups, legal guidance and assistance, funds for extracurricular activities, information and guided assistance, educational workshops, and outings. With COVID-19 though, the nonprofit has become creative and moved many of their support groups and activities online. For example, they have partnered with televëda to create “Duet at Home,” an initiative that brings virtual programming like Bingo, Tai chi, yoga, painting, and more to grandfamilies free-of-charge and in the safety of their own homes.

Covey and her family have used Duet’s services since 2014. “We have found a loving and supportive network of people through Duet,” she says. “The connections, friendship, and resource referrals we have made through Duet are vast. We continue to gather with Duet [virtually] for support groups, educational events, holidays and celebrations, as well as activities to help our children bond, learn and grow with other families in similar situations.”

Covey adds that she is continually seeking education, advice, and support from Duet to provide a healthy home for her grandfamily.

“The pandemic has been hard on all of us, especially grandparents raising grandchildren who must juggle their own health and wellness needs as vulnerable seniors and those of the children in their care,” says Patricia Dominguez, kinship care services director at Duet. “Virtual programming offered through our partner televëda, and other support services we offer such as our virtual support groups, can help grandparents and other kinship caregivers know that they are not alone.”

In appreciation of the support Duet has provided her grandfamily over the years, Covey and her grandchildren have made it a goal to give back to the organization and other families in the Valley. Her grandchildren often volunteer with Duet in different capacities and she provides financial support when she can.

“Thanks to the respite funds, my grandchildren were able to go to YMCA camps,” Covey adds. “This was so appreciated because our grandchildren had just been placed with us and we were strapped for funds and patience.”

“I gave a tax credit donation to Duet this year because they have helped my grandfamily tremendously over the years through events, respite dollars, and support groups,” Covey adds. “Grandfamilies are often left out of ‘the system’ and Duet is on the ground floor helping families like mine when we need support the most.”

Through Duet, Covey has found a passion to help other Arizona grandfamilies. She is now part of the Arizona Grandfamily Association, where she spends time advocating for services that grandfamilies need. Duet helped Covey’s family at a time when they needed it most, and now she wants to be a beacon of hope for other grandfamilies.

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