Michele Driver – Discovering Purpose Within Hardship
For Michele Driver, one phone call changed everything. A year and a half ago, in the middle of the night, Driver answered a call. Waiting on the line was DFCS. They asked if she would come pick up Kendall, her six-year-old granddaughter.
Kendall had lost her mom three months before, and that night Kendall woke up to find her other grandmother had passed away
At six, Kendall had no one. Her father, Driver’s son, was unfit to raise her and now just months apart, all of her close family had passed away. Though Driver knew about her granddaughter, she had not been part of her life previously. Kendall had two options, foster care or move in with Driver.
“If I hadn’t taken her that night, she would have stayed with them and gone into the system. So, I just went and got her. There was no other option in my eyes,” said Driver.
Though Driver loves Kendall deeply, this change was a challenge for her. Her plan for retirement was flipped upside down in an instant. She often felt isolated.
“I was in a huge singles group at my church, and we would do so many fun activities together, but I can’t be a part of that anymore, not since I got Kendall. I am the only person in my church who takes care of their grandchild full time. There just wasn’t anyone there who could truly understand,” said Driver.
Driver needed help for herself and Kendall. She found that help through ACCA’s Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program.
“It’s heaven sent. I cannot put into words what Grandparents Raising Children has meant to me. You’re around people who understand. It’s a different kind of community,” said Driver, ”You feel it. You definitely feel that there is somebody who cares about you. If I am having a bad day, I know that I can call Rebecca, the program coordinator, just to talk and she would be there for me.”
Through the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program, staff and volunteers not only care for the children, but also are invested in the grandparents’ lives and wellbeing.
“They help you physically and mentally. We talk a lot. They call and check in, ask how you are and if you need anything. They are constantly wanting to know what they can do for you,” said Driver, “They think practically about what you need. Rebecca, she’s been there for me for all of my questions. I’ve been trying to get more food stamps for Kendall and myself, and Rebecca did all of the research for me. She even helped me find fun and free things to do with Kendall this summer. They are just really intentional. I cannot brag about them enough.”
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren became more than a program for Driver. It helped her find purpose in her new life.
“I have a lot more perspective of what my purpose looks like now. When I first got Kendall, I talked with my bishop and he asked if Kendall was from Kent, my late husband. She was, and he said, ‘everytime we have talked, you’ve struggled to understand your purpose. I think Kent just gave you your purpose.’ Maybe that’s true,” said Driver. “Kendall’s got me pointed in the right direction. I think maybe I was being selfish before. The mindset of ‘I’ve taken care of everyone else, it’s my turn now,’ maybe that was not where I should have been. It is about other people and those are lessons I learned through Kendall and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.”
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren became a life line for Driver and helped navigate her new role as Kendall’s caregiver.
“I hope that others see what Grandparents Raising Grandchildren means to the people involved in the program, and that they are willing to keep funding the program because without it, grandparents like me would be literally lost. It’s one thing to raise your kids, but it is completely different to raise your grandkids. It’s a different world and you have to be on your toes. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren helps with that,” said Driver.