Contributed by Betsy Woodin, Alaska Center for Resource Families
I nominated Rozann Kimpton for the 2017 Alaska Angels in Adoption Award based on her commitment to her two great grandchildren and support for other relative caregivers in the Mat-Su. I have known Rozann for over ten years and have seen her go from being an unlicensed caregiver to foster great grandparent to adoptive great grandparent of her two great grandchildren, Luke and Amanda. In addition, Rozann is the volunteer coordinator of our local Grandparent Support Group.
Originally this group was part of the Volunteers of America statewide Grandfamilies Program, but VOA did not have staff in the Valley. Over the years, we developed a local group with some assistance from organizations in the Valley, but stay connected to VOA in Anchorage. The support group is composed of relative caregivers, foster grandparents and adoptive grandparents that enjoy meeting monthly to do fun activities with the kids while providing support and encouragement to each other.
Most of the year, we meet in the Turn-A-Leaf Thrift Store Community Room in Wasilla and do holiday-themed arts and crafts like making sugared Easter baskets or gingerbread igloos as well as suet-filled mesh bag bird feeders and tied fleece blankets to be given to the children being adopted from the foster care system.
During the short Alaskan summer, we usually meet at Rozann's property which has a creek that the kids can play in while we cook hotdogs and have a bonfire. Everyone brings food to share and the children get to play in the water, on the trampoline or with the dogs. Even the older youth enjoy getting together to visit with each other. Over the years, friendships have developed and it has become more like an extended family than a support group.
As the foster, relative and adoptive parent trainer at Alaska Center for Resource Families, a small non-profit, this is my absolute favorite group to work with. Whenever I do outreach in the community, I include Rozann as she invites other relative caregivers to visit the Grandparent Support Group since many of them are raising their grandchildren with little to no financial support or agency involvement. At eighty-one years of age, she does a lot to dispel the myth about being too old to raise grandkids, or as in her case - great grandkids! We are very pleased that she was selected for this award.