The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Relative Caregiver Program received more than $7,750 in monetary donations, as well as numerous toys, for its annual Winter Holiday Giveaway December 19 for the children and teens who are part of the program.
The Relative Caregiver program was established in 2001 to support children and teens who are being raised by relatives because their parents are unable to do so.
Managed by the UTHSC Center for Developmental Disabilities (CDD), the program provides family services, including family advocacy and case management, youth and teen activity groups, caregiver support groups, educational workshops, mentoring, referral services, and limited financial assistance to ensure children are able to stay within the family instead of entering foster care.
Teresa English, MSSW, Shelby County Relative Caregiver program administrator shared, “It was a true joy to see the smiles on our families’ faces when they received their gifts. They were all so appreciative and grateful. I truly appreciate UTHSC, the Relative Caregiver Program staff, and everyone that continues to support the Relative Caregiver Program and everything we do to support, advocate, and give hope to families.”
Among the many community organizations that made donations were the UTHSC Campus Cupboard, the Grind City Cycling Club, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Memphis Chapter of the Tennessee State Employees Association, Mary Kay Cosmetics, the Mid-South Food Bank, Hope Church, and Girl Friends, Inc.
“While this year has been especially difficult for many families because of COVID-19 and the rise in unemployment, the Relative Caregiver Program’s staff, donors, and supporters upped their support to make this a successful Christmas event for children and caregivers in the program,” said Carolyn Graff, PhD, RN, FAAIDD, CDD research coordinator and professor in the UTHSC College of Nursing.