By: Carole Townsend | Gwinnett Citizen
Published: 2017-04-10 14:40
Date Modified: 2017-07-18 03:27
Designing Grandmothers

Is there anything greater than a grandmother’s love? In fact, to quote U.S. Federal Judge Judith Levy, “When a child is born, so is a grandmother.”

There’s just something wondrous about seeing the child of your child; the love runs so deep that many find it difficult to describe. There is, however, a group of Georgia grandmothers who not only describe a grandmother’s love; they also demonstrate it, every day.

A Snellville club, aptly named “Designing Grandmothers,” is a member of the National Federation of Grandmother Clubs of America. But before picturing a room full of grannies in rocking chairs busily knitting scarves, think again. While this club got its start in Snellville, it now includes people from all over Gwinnett County and beyond. Sixteen members strong, these women have become a powerful force in the care of children well beyond their own biological families. An unbounded love for children, combined with a fervent desire to help cure childhood cancer, have catapulted these grandmothers to, well, “super”grandmothers.

According to current club president Carol Durham, “We have supported the March of Dimes and ALS research in the past, but several years back, we chose to throw our resources and support behind ‘Cure Childhood Cancer’ research. We’ve been able to give more than one hundred thousand dollars to the organization since 2002.” In fact, the Georgia chapter has been able to give almost one-third of the amount that the entire national federation has been able to give to the worthy cause (there are about 435 members nationwide).

In addition to contributing to the research fund on a national scale, “Designing Grandmothers” also helps local families whose child is battling in the fight of his or her young life. Whether the help comes in the form of a gift card to help pay a utility bill or mortgage payment, pay for braces or even a wig, this group of gracious women is ready to lend a hand. Once a year, they roll up their sleeves and serve lunch – catered by a local eatery – to families with children at Scottish Rite Hospital or Egleston. These women make a real difference to families in desperate need of hope and help. “Some of these parents are there with a child who was only recently diagnosed. They are often still in shock, not knowing where to turn,” Durham said.

On a day in late March, the “Designing Grandmothers” hosted a Founder’s Day reception at beautiful Yancey House in Lawrenceville. The event was aimed at planning for the upcoming “Rolling for a Cure” Bunco night at Summit Chase Country Club (as well as a new event slated for June), but this dynamic group of women is also hoping to attract new members to their ranks. As is typical of gracious Southern women, the “Designing Grandmothers” do not call attention to themselves by seeking the spotlight, but they do want to make it known that they would love to welcome new members.

“You don’t have to live in Snellville, or even in Gwinnett County to join. You don’t even have to be a grandmother!” laughed past president Barbara Rawlins (a club member since 1984). All that’s required for membership is a love for children and dedication to eradicating the disease that has no business invading a child – cancer. Attracting new members has become a priority nationwide, as the roles of grandmothers are changing in many families. Many grandmothers are actually raising their grandchildren for one reason or another; still more are responsible for getting their grandchildren to after-school activities because Mom works outside the home. “But we recognize that we must change as the role of the grandmother changes,” said club Communications Director Denise Cowell.

Treasurer Vickie Malone is proud of the contributions her club has been able to make, to both Cure Childhood Cancer as well as to local families. A former member of the Theta Sigma chapter of Beta Sigma Phi (a social services sorority), Malone explained that several Theta Sigma members joined with “Designing Grandmothers” a few years ago. The mission and the passion are the same.

Amazingly, these women are able to make such generous donations to Cure Childhood Cancer by hosting only 3 events annually (and by gratefully accepting donations throughout the year). The 6th Annual “Rolling for a CURE” Bunco-Dinner-Silent Auction night is scheduled to begin at 6:00 pm on Thurs., April 20. Held at Summit Chase Country Club in Snellville, a mere $30 donation is requested to attend. This event has become a permanent addition to many local calendars since it began, so those interested are asked to RSVP via email to crdurham1@aol.com.

“We’re adding a new event this year, and that’s a huge garage sale,” Durham said. Scheduled 8:00 a.m. – 3 p.m. on June 24, the sale will be held at 2280 Oak Road in Snellville. Donations from the public are gratefully accepted; for more information, email Barbara Garrison at garr2298@bellsouth.net.

“Designing Grandmothers” raises additional funds by participating in Belk Charity Days every year, and with their Fall Annual Dinner and Auction held every November.

For more information about the National Federation of Grandmother Clubs of America, visit www.nationalgrandmotherclubs.com. “Designing Grandmothers” meet at the Snellville Senior Center, 2350 Oak Road in Snellville, the second Wednesday of every month. Annual membership dues are $35.00. To find out more information about the Georgia club, or to ask specific questions about membership or donations, email crdurham1@aol.com.