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Hand-In-Hand: Honoring Our Grandparents

multi-generational family posing for a group photo

Grandparents are very special. I have fond memories of fun times with my grandparents. My grandpa was a quiet man who loved to fish. I remember waiting with much anticipation for his return from fishing trips because he’d always come back with coolers full of salmon, trout, or smelt, and sometimes polliwogs—those he used as bait. Then Grandma and family “sous chefs” would do their magic in the kitchen before all 14 of us (aunts, uncles, cousins, and all) would gather around a huge dining room table for a fabulous fish fry dinner.

Karen Winston treasures this photo of her mother and her grandparents.

Contributor Karen Winston treasures this photo of her mother, Klara Mae McCurdy (later Winston), as a child, with Karen’s great-grandparents, Isabella and Willie Clark.

In 1978, Congress passed the legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation. Marian McQuade was the founder of Grandparents Day. She had served on the West Virginia Commission on Aging and the Nursing Home Licensing Board and made it her goal to educate youth in the community about the important contributions older adults have made throughout history. Marian also urged the youth to “adopt” a grandparent, not just for one day a year, but for a lifetime.

Did you know that Grandparents Day is celebrated in other countries, too? To name just a few, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom recognize the importance of grandparents in our families and communities.

This year, for the first time, the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders is partnering with the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), AARP, and Aging and Disability Services to celebrate Grandparents Day. On Sunday, September 8, 2019, families are invited to come to the Museum from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. with a short program starting at 2:30 p.m. The event will celebrate the contributions and strength of grandparents. There will also be intergenerational activities, a DJ, storytelling, a photo booth, and resource information on local programs and services.

A short program will feature Dr. LaShawnDa Pittman, whose research focuses on grandparent caregiving—also called “kinship care.” A kinship caregiver is a relative such as a grandparent, uncle, or sister who cares for a child (age 18 years or younger) whose own parents are unable to do so. Dr. Pittman’s research on grandparent caregiving and African American families has been featured in edited volumes, including the Relational Poverty Politics: Forms, Struggles, and Possibilities, Health Care for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Across the Lifespan, and The African American Experience: Psychoanalytic Perspectives. The program will begin at 3 p.m., followed by a reception.

Everyone is welcome to participate in the festivities! For more information, contact NAAM (206-518-6000 or

Contributor Karen Winston is the Aging and Disability Services planner who staffs the Mayor’s Council on African American Elders. Members reflect a broad range of professional and community experience and diverse perspectives. For more information, visit