The Artist, LA

Man standing next to an art piece.Being a part of the kinship support system for Marlowe and his grandchildren has significantly impacted my worldview of what’s possible in helping families stay together. I was contacted early one morning by child welfare staff for our State agency letting me know of a case closure and their concern for the plight of the grandfather and two boys, ages 10 and 11. As a Kinship Coordinator for our Family Resource Center’s new Navigator Program, I could hear in the voice of the child welfare staff that she was touched by this family and wanted to do more but just did not know what to do. It seems that 57-year-old Marlowe, who had been granted custody of his young grandsons 4 months after his transition from incarceration back to the community, was struggling with overwhelming difficulties in taking care of his new family. He had been the kinship caregiver for 9 months and was still without steady work and a source of support for the family.

I reached Marlowe and traveled to the house he was renting in rural south Louisiana. He explained to me that the first thing he did when released from prison was to look for his grandsons as he knew their father was in prison and their mother had been unable to care for them. Soon after being reunited, he was granted custody; however, no support had been forthcoming and he was using his skills as a handyman and self-taught artist to keep the family afloat. He shared his thoughts with me, explaining that he performed well in prison and developed his skills as an artist because his grandchildren inspired him to change the legacy for his family. Through the help from the leadership at our State agency, the Kinship subsidy, our Family Resource Center, and the faith-based community, in addition to his landlord and encouragement from the artistic community, Marlowe is well on the way to accomplishing his goals and changing the future for his grandchildren. He also is becoming the brother, father and grandfather figure that is greatly needed in his family.

To learn more about the Discovery/Renew Family Resource projects, visit its website.