CHURCH HILL — While the holiday season is a time of cheer for many, for one Hawkins County grandmother it brings home the stressful reality of raising a grandchild by herself on a fixed income.
Janice, 48, has spent the last 11 years caring for her granddaughter, Kya, and said it gets tough to come up with enough money to cover necessities and gifts when Christmas nears.
“I’m on disability and I just don’t have the funds to do anything,” Janice said. “I’m very low income, and I’m raising my 11-year-old granddaughter, so it’s tough.”
Despite the financial hardship, Janice, a former nurse who has been on disability for the past seven years, said she wouldn’t change a thing when it comes to having custody of Kya.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Janice said. “She’s very understanding, she’s a very good kid. I try to do everything I can for her.”
Janice described Kya as an “A-B student” who loves basketball and enjoys playing board games and reading books.
“She’s very smart when it comes to her instincts,” Janice said. “All the clothes that she can’t wear anymore, she wants to donate to kids that don’t have clothes and things like that. She’s an amazing and thoughtful little girl.”
Despite having raised Kya since she was an infant, Janice said she receives no help — either monetarily or in the form of child care — from her granddaughter’s biological parents. The two get by on Janice’s $700 disability check each month, but because she has not formally adopted Kya, she receives no disability payments for taking care of her.
And while she does have family living in the region, Janice — a transplant from the Northeast — said they are not particularly close and rarely communicate.
As someone who spent the vast majority of her adult life working to support herself, Janice said it was a tough decision to make when she first approached the Times-News Rescue Fund for assistance with providing holiday meals.
Janice said it’s the second time in three years she’s taken advantage of the Rescue Fund.
“It’s a great service for the whole community,” Janice said. “There are a lot of families out there, like me, who can’t do what they’d like to. It’s really a blessing.”
Although the Rescue Fund’s main aim is providing families with vouchers to purchase food during the holiday season, Janice said it does free up enough money to allow her to purchase Christmas gifts for Kya.
“Like I said, I’m very limited on money and it’s a big help when it comes to getting Christmas presents for her, that’s what counts,” Janice said.
This family is one of more than 1,000 families in a six-county region that will be assisted by the Times-News Rescue Fund.
Contributions can be sent to: Kingsport Times-News, Attention: Rescue Fund, P.O. Box 479, Kingsport, Tenn. 37662.