Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Lost Social Security Benefit for Students

As the dialogue about how to achieve long-term solvency for Social Security continues,  Generations United urges Congress to protect survivors, disability and retirement benefits, and further strengthen the adequacy of the program. 

One low-cost change that would improve economic security for families with children is to reinstate the student benefit.  Generations United has released a new fact sheet entitled, "The Lost Social Security Benefit for Students."  It details how this important benefit for post-secondary education came about, why it was eliminated in 1981, and why we must fight to reinstate it.  

To learn more about the student benefit, download our fact sheet The Lost Social Security Benefit for Students.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Grandparents Week Blog: Fortunate

Picture of Sheri with her grandparents on her wedding day, December 26, 1999.

I was a very fortunate kid.  I grew up just a short drive away from all four of my grandparents (and even three of my great-grandparents).  My parents and my grandparents made sure I was able to spend plenty of time with them.  In retrospect, I think I also demanded to spend a lot of time with them!  When given this assignment, I had a hard time pinpointing specific memories to write about; mainly since my grandparents play such integral parts in all my memories. 

I remember countless sleepovers with both sets of grandparents.  At one house, I slept between my grandparents in their bed, where my grandfather would sing songs and tell spooky stories.  At the others’ house, I remember the impromptu sleepovers where I would get to wear one of my grandmother’s nightgowns and my grandfather would cook pancakes in the morning.  Whether swimming in their pool with my aunts and cousins; snapping beans in the basement; hiding in the dog house with the dogs; sledding down the massive hill in their backyard; spending weeks at their house during the summer and then begging my parents to let me stay longer (I remember a lot of begging); working for my grandfather during high school and college; or many, many more wonderful times; my grandparents always made me feel very special and very loved.

I am also a very fortunate adult.  I still live just a short drive away from all four of my grandparents.  Although I don’t get to see them as often as I like, they remain incredible grandparents to me and incredible great-grandparents to my two children.   Things really haven’t changed, they are still helping me to create wonderful memories, and they still make me feel very special and very loved.

Written by: Sheri Steinig

Grandparents Week: President Barack Obama

Throughout Grandparents Week, we've been posting celebrity blogs featuring many public figures, athletes, singers, and more who were raised by their grandparents or whose grandparents played a significant role in their lives. 
But, did you know that our very own President, Barack Obama, was raised by his grandparents?

In the President's Own Words: “I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. My grandfather served in Patton’s Army, and my grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line. They didn't have money, but they gave me love, a thirst for education, and a belief that we're all part of something larger than ourselves.”
In honor of the important role grandparents play in our lives, President Barack Obama released a proclamation declaring September 11th National Grandparents Day.
Generations United applauds the President's acknowledgement of this special day, and we thank the administration for honoring grandparents and recognizing their important contribution to our communities and our lives.  
We urge the President to continue to work to create intergenerational policies and programs which support grandparents, particularly those who are caring for their grandchildren, because we are stronger together.
Photo Courtesy of:

Grandparents Week: Friday's List of Famous Figures

Lucille Ball: Lucille's father died before her 4th birthday. As a result, her mother was forced to work several jobs, so Lucille's grandmother kindly helped raise her. 

Frederick Douglass: Frederick was raised by his grandmother, Betsy; his mother had been "rented out" to another farm, farther north on the Shore. Betsy was a strong and independent woman, a female figure (among several others) that would influence Frederick's deep life-long respect for women. She was a slave woman, married to a free black man, who was allowed, outside of her regular daily duties, to earn her own living by cultivating vegetables and hand-crafting seine nets for fishing. When Frederick was 6, the order was given that Betsy was to take Frederick to live at Wye House, fully separating him from his grandmother and the only home he had ever known.

Willye B. White: Willye was born in 1939 in Money, Mississippi. She was raised by her grandparents. At age ten, she discovered her talent for running and jumping. She became the first American to compete on five Olympic track and field teams. 

Photos Courtesy Of: egotvonline,,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Grandparents Week Blog: My Grandpa

Grandpa Butts arrived by train every summer, making the journey from Kansas to visit my family in Oregon. He worked for the railroad from the time he finished school at age 16 until he retired at 65. He was not going to board a plane. Grandpa also never drove a car. He walked everywhere or took the bus. His favorite walk was on the golf course. An avid golfer, he got his 7th and final hole in one when he was 82.

Grandma Butts died shortly after Grandpa retired. I tried to visit him as often as my travels put me within range of the little white house in Topeka my Dad grew up in. We became closer during those years sharing adventures, pictures and stories. As the afternoons would start to fade he’d get a twinkle in his eye and say “Donna, you want to go to the club and have a wine?” We’d walk down the alley to his local hang out where he would have a beer, and I’d have “a wine” and chat with his friends. He loved the compliments they would pay him in particular how lucky he was to have his granddaughter visit. What they didn’t know was that I was the lucky one. I still covet the memories of our time together and deep love Grandpa Butts showered on me.

Written by: Donna Butts

Grandparents Week: Thursday's List of Public Officials and GrandRally Special Guests

Rep. Richard Neal: As a result of the passing of both of Congressman Neal's parents, he and his two younger sisters moved in with their grandmother, and later, their aunt. As the GrandRally today highlights, Social Security is a critical support to children raised by grandparents and other relatives. A perfect example - Congressman Neal, who relied on Social Security growing up. Congressman Neal is a featured and honored guest at today's Fourth National GrandRally.

Rep. Karen Bass: The Congresswoman has been a champion for children, families, and caregivers in the state of California and nationally. This year, she is a featured speaker at the GrandRally

Michael Morris: A featured guest of today's GrandRally, Michael Morris is the author of Slow Way Home, a book about a child being raised by his grandparents. Michael was raised by his grandparents, and has a true connection to the plight of relative caregivers as a result.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa: The Congresswoman grew up in a multigenerational household, where all her family members, including her grandparents, had a hand in raising her.
Photos Courtesy of:,,,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grandparents Week Blog: My Blue Ribbon Grandmother

When I hear about grandparents spoiling their grandchildren with toys, and trips, and all sorts of treats, I have trouble relating. My grandmother Sue had 23 grandchildren and very little money. In a good year, we might have received a silver dollar each for Christmas and a card for our birthday. Not very much by today’s standards. Yet—and I know I speak for all 23 grandchildren—we wouldn’t have traded Grandmom Sue for the world.

First, there was her sense of humor: dry, often aimed at one of us, but never mean or sarcastic; just funny. Then there were her hands: large, freckled with age spots, warm and comforting. Over the years, they had kneaded thousands of loaves of bread; wonderful, warm, yeasty bread. Bread that won the blue ribbon at New Jersey State Fair for 33 years in a row—except for one year. That year, my Aunt Alice won first place; Grandmom came in second.

One of my fondest memories was of Grandmom standing on her glassed-in porch waving as my family left for home. If it was dark when we left, she always flicked the porch light three times. For some reason, it gave me a warm, safe feeling knowing she was standing guard as we drove away. Warm and safe. Isn’t that what grandmothers are all about, anyway?

Written By: Colleen Appleby-Carroll

Grandparents Week: Wednesday's Celebrity List

Edward James Olmos: Edward was raised by his great-grandfather and his great-grandmother.

Oprah Winfrey: After her birth, Oprah's mother traveled north, and Winfrey spent her first six years living with her grandmother.

Willie Nelson: Willie began performing music as a child growing up in Abbott, Texas. After his father died and his mother ran away, Nelson and his sister Bobbie were raised by their grandparents, who encouraged both children to play instruments.

Louis Armstrong: Born into extreme poverty in New Orleans, Armstrong was raised by his grandmother until the age of five.

Chris Jennings: Before his career in the NFL, Chris was living in Huntington, West Virginia, where he was raised by his grandparents, Rosa and Trellis Tyson.

Photos Courtesy of:,,,,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grandparents Week Blog: Three Generations

Featured in Photo: Thomas Taylor, grandpa; Keith V. Taylor, son; Keith S. Taylor, grandson. On Thanksgiving Day November 25, 2010, my 14 year old grandson and I were the same height. On his 15th birthday, June 26, 2011 (seven months later) my grandson is two inches taller than me and on a pace to outgrow his 6”, 4” Dad.

Since there are two Keith’s, I decided to call my grandson K2. When he was about two years old, I enjoyed playing catch by rolling a ball on the ground. Two year olds are not yet coordinated, and the ball often rolled past him. Undaunted he chased after it saying, “I’ll get it”. This made us both laugh as we enjoyed each other’s company.

Around that time we started to greet each other by touching our foreheads together. (This is a form of greeting in some countries). As he continued to grow we always have said hello by touching foreheads. Last Thanksgiving Day, we touched our foreheads, and we were at eye level. On his birthday in June, he had to bend down in order for us to greet one another. I was amazed and he was delighted.

I had wondered if as he grew older he would shy away from a ritual which is shared only between the two of us, but he has not and usually initiates the greeting. This expression of caring and appreciation is one of the joys of my life, and I see it as a reflection of the love of my son, his father.

Written By: Thomas Taylor

Grandparents Week: Tuesday's Celebrity List

James Earl Jones: James was raised by his grandparents in Michigan.

Carol Burnett: She and her sister were both raised by their loving grandmother. It has long been a matter of public record that Burnett credits her grandmother for encouraging her to utilize her comic and musical talents to the fullest.

Gloria Estefan: Gloria was raised from birth by her maternal grandmother who nurtured her musical talents.

EVE: After EVE's parents separated when she was 12, her mother and grandmother helped to raise her.

Juwan Howard: Juwan was raised by his grandmother in Chicago.

Photos Courtesy of:,,,,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Grandparents Week: Monday's Celebrity List

Vince Vaughn: Vince was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and raised in Illinois. His father worked at a casino, and his mother on the stock exchange. Vince's parents were often working, so Vince was cared for primarily by his sisters and grandmother.

Marisa Tomei:  Her parents were very busy while she was growing up. To help out, her grandmother, Rita Tomei, assisted in raising her.

Charles Barkley: Charles grew up in Leeds, Alabama, where he was raised by his mother and grandmother.

Kellie Pickler: Kellie was raised by her grandparents from the age of 12, and has been a featured guest at the GrandRally. For more information, visit

Kevin Johnson: Kevin is the current mayor of Sacramento, California. When he was born, his mother was only 16 years old, and at the age of three, his father tragically passed away. As a result, his maternal grandparents assisted in raising him.

Photos Courtesy of: David Shankbone, NNDB,,

Grandparents Week Blog: "I Love You"

I don’t have the stories of long nights listening to my grandpa tell stories like many kids.  My grandfather was born deaf.

Until I was in high school, he lived in a retirement community in Florida, and I would usually see him once a year during a family visit. Although American Sign Language was my father’s first language, he and my mother are both hearing and sign language wasn’t spoken in my home regularly. I learned to finger spell the alphabet, and a few basic signs, but my communication with grandpa as a child was mostly limited to pantomime, facial expressions, and written notes.  My grandmother was also deaf. She lost her hearing as an infant. She would often vocalize some of her words in soft strained tones, but grandpa never made an intentional vocal noise.

Grandpa moved in with my family in high school after my grandmother died. Occupied with schoolwork, clubs, band, sports and friends, I never learned much more sign. However, I did have many warm and sometimes transforming moments with grandpa doing puzzles, watching Wheel of Fortune together, and hearing stories about his childhood thru my dad, the interpreter.  Grandpa, who died 9 years ago at 98,  remains today to be one of the most direct, humble, gentle and patient men I have ever known.

The year I left for college, grandpa turned 90. Midway thru my first semester, Grandpa and Dad decided to make the 14 hour trip from Illinois to Pennsylvania to come visit. They called me at my dorm from their hotel when they arrived.  Dad launched into how the trip went and was starting into making plans to meet up for dinner, when grandpa interrupted and asked for the phone.  The next thing I heard was the gentle but dragging murmur of what sounded like a tape recorded voice playing on the wrong speed, “III  LLLOVVE  YYOUU”. My dad got back on the phone, choked up. “I have never heard my father speak,” he said.

I may not have gotten to spend hours listening to my grandpa tell stories like many kids, but the words I did hear from him, I will never forget. 

Written By: Jaia Peterson-Lent