Thursday, December 08, 2011

Multigenerational Family Profile: Levy Gillespie

Gillespie1 Levy Gillespie lives with his grandchild at Generations, an affordable rental property developed and managed by Community Renewal Team, Inc. (CRT), a Hartford-based community action agency that is the largest nonprofit provider of human services in Connecticut. Generations consists of 40 rental apartments in two sections: one for seniors and the other for grandparents raising their grandchildren.

My granddaughter Aubrey is four years old now. She came to me when she was just about a month old. My daughter was in a difficult relationship with Aubrey’s father, and she knew it wasn’t going to work for her to keep the child. She was afraid that the child would be taken away from her and sent to a foster home. So she brought Aubrey to me – and I went to court and won legal custody.

Raising Aubrey has been very good for me. I like being responsible for her, and she helps keep me focused. I’m 52-years-old and diabetic, and I don’t always feel good, but she motivates me to take care of myself. And she’s fun! She’s a very good kid, and she learns quickly, too.

I do some work for a temp agency, doing odd jobs. That gives me some flexibility. It would be hard for me to hold a full-time job right now, because Aubrey is my main responsibility. My day is organized around her.

‘I needed help to raise my granddaughter, and I was fortunate enough to find it.’

I’ve done a lot of praying, and I believe God opens doors for us. You never know how the doors are going to open, but they do. I needed help to keep my granddaughter, and I was fortunate enough to find it. We moved in to CRT about six months ago, and it has been a blessing for us. It’s a real community. I can talk with other grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, and we have meetings where we can talk about other things like working together to keep our community clean and safe. I’m very grateful to be here.

Before I found out about CRT, I was really struggling. When the economy went bad I lost my job and I was close to losing my apartment. I couldn’t pay my gas bill, my electric bill. I was stressed out and depressed and anxious about whether I could continue to take care of Aubrey. We were just going week to week. CRT gave me hope again. I don’t have much to live on, but I have a caseworker at CRT who looks out for Aubrey and me, and they go out of their way to help.

To read more multigenerational family stories and to see how they are faring in this tough environment, download the executive summary or full report of our signature report Family Matters: Multigenerational Families in a Volatile Economy.

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