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Kinship caregivers find help in local support group

Marana Unified Kinship Support Group
Posted at 6:16 AM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 09:36:42-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — When Michele Harris started raising her two grandchildren with special needs, she said she felt alone.

"At the same time, my husband was also very sick," she said. "And not long after we started raising the kids, my daughter Rebecca lost her battle with addiction and about 11 months later, my husband died."

She said in that moment, while her youngest daughter was there for support, she still felt alone.

"My husband was my left hand and my right arm," she said. "He was my go-to guy for everything and here I was, I have to make all these decisions not just about kids but about life."

During her search for support services and several social workers later, she met Krysti Hesse. Hesse is a social worker for Marana Unified School District and after conversations with Harris, she noticed a need for kinship support in the Marana area.

"Sometimes they feel isolated and they feel like they are the only ones doing this but I know that they aren’t because I was seeing more and more of them," Hesse said. "And so I wanted them to know that there were other people out there like them and the resources."

So just before the pandemic began, she started the Kinship Support Group at Marana Unified School District, but it's open for anyone in the area to join. The group meets once a month on Zoom but soon will transition back to in-person.

For Harris, the support she receives from Hesse and the group is invaluable.

"Even though logically I’m know I'm not alone but it helps to actually have those five or six people around you to make you feel less alone," Harris said. "And yeah I can stand on my own two feet too because you need to do that but it’s always nice to have that go to person that can be there and share the tears with you."

You can find resources available across our area here.

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