For Victoria, resilience has been a life-long strength, not something just recently accessed during the pandemic. A mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and kinship care advocate, Victoria has been a resilient leader for her family long before anyone ever heard of COVID-19.
Nearly 30 years ago, Victoria, with no real notice, took custody of her then -infant granddaughter who had serious medical issues. With no formal supports or financial assistance, she quickly figured out what her granddaughter needed and how to access it. Six months later, she again was asked to take custody of another grandchild in need. By that time, she was “in the groove” of accessing supports, specialists and doctors. And when it was determined this second child was not biologically her granddaughter, she and her husband did not waver in continuing to provide love, care and a home for that child.
She and her husband adopted other grandchildren and also become foster parents who focused on taking in larger sibling groups – at times as large as 3 or 4 children at once. She estimates she and her husband have fostered more than 40 children.
This foster experience highlighted the lack of resources for kinship care providers when compared to foster parents. And as Victoria sought out support, she also discovered how important it was to be part of a community who were also experiencing the same stressors, losses and successes. This led her to found her own non-profit organization to support kinship providers. The pandemic has resulted in her organization exploring ways beyond face-to-face to connect. Using Zoom and phone calls, she maintains that personal connection with kinship families.
Victoria recognizes that COVID-19, coupled with racial injustice, had made this a “horrible” year for many families. And yet, she sees everyday families who manage to stretch a budget just a bit further than they thought possible; families who manage to come together.
To learn more about Victoria’s organization, visit greynickelinc.com.