Ty Martinez, a 7-year-old East Elementary School student, plays with his family's horses, Joker and Chick, on Thursday afternoon. Martinez's grandparents, Phil and Linda Pinnt, are his legal guardians and have been raising the youth since he was 2 years old. A new VNA support group is designed to provide grandparents like Linda, who are raising grandchildren, with a sharing network, she said.

Hans Hallgren/Daily Press

Ty Martinez, a 7-year-old East Elementary School student, plays with his family's horses, Joker and Chick, on Thursday afternoon. Martinez's grandparents, Phil and Linda Pinnt, are his legal guardians and have been raising the youth since he was 2 years old. A new VNA support group is designed to provide grandparents like Linda, who are raising grandchildren, with a sharing network, she said.

The family ties that bind

Visiting Nurse Association offers new support group for grandparents raising children

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— It wasn't the easiest decision for Phil and Linda Pinnt. They were 53 years old, had raised four children of their own and were looking forward to having time to themselves.

But, a 2-year-old child needed a home. It was their grandson, Ty Martinez.

"It wasn't an overnight decision," Linda said. "It had been a few years. : Our kids were raised and gone. And then, all of the sudden, you have a 2-year-old, and you're going through the terrible twos again.

"Our biggest concern was what was best for the child. We figured we were."

Linda, a billing account manager for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's Craig office, said there are several grandparents like her and her husband in Moffat County, raising their grandchildren. She told colleagues at the VNA that these grandparents could use a support group.

It didn't take long for the VNA to respond.

Beginning Wednesday, the VNA will offer a support group for grandparents in Moffat and Routt counties raising their grandkids. The first meeting is scheduled to run from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the VNA's Craig office, 745 Russell St.

"I just thought that if they had some place to go, it would give them an idea on how to handle their situations," Pinnt said. "I think the intent is to let grandparents know they have a place to go."

Support group coordinator Katie Keller, a VNA intern who's in the process of getting her master's degree in social work from Colorado State University, said she believes the networking involved in the support group will benefit grandparents and the children they're raising.

"Now seems like the time to get this off the ground," Keller said.

"There is an emotional aspect, and the transition can be difficult (for grandparents) and a child."

A significant obstacle for most grandparents, Keller said, is the financial burden of raising another child.

"I think it's one of the biggest," she said. "They were preparing for life without children and now they have a child back in the home."

Anyone is welcome to attend the support group. Keller said the VNA hopes for at least five families to participate in the first meeting.

She said there are an assortment of reasons why grandparents sometimes end up raising their grandchildren. It's up to the people in the support group whether they want to discuss causes that led to them raising their grandchildren, she said.

Although the prospect of once again raising a child is never easy, Linda said it's not without rewards. She spent Friday with Ty, now a 7-year-old at East Elementary School, on a field trip to the sheepdog trials in Meeker.

The Pinnts are now Ty's legal guardians.

"Oh," Linda said, "he's a charmer. He's a very athletic, very smart, good little boy."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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