Norfolk, VA, December 28, 2023: Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia (CCEVA) and various Knights of Columbus Councils joined forces on December 2nd to host a Christmas party for families in CCEVA’s Grandparents as Parents (GAP) program.
CCEVA’s GAP program is a dedicated support group designed to offer assistance, guidance, resources, and a sense of community to family members navigating the unique challenges of raising grandchildren or relatives’ children. The program addresses the specific issues, questions, and obstacles that arise in parenting a relative’s child.
John Cochran began the Coats for Kids partnership with CCEVA six years ago to provide new coats to children being raised by their grandparents and to provide the food and labor to feed the GAPs families at the event and distribute all the new coats, hats and gloves. This years’ event had the highest demand for coats, the highest level of volunteer participation, and the addition of Fr. Edward Richardson, SMA Council #111984. The other participating councils include: Kempsville Council #10515, Saint Teresa Council #12117, Saint Teresa Ladies Auxiliary, San Lorenzo Council #12378 and San Lorenzo Ladies Auxiliary.
The festive party included crafts and cookie decorating for the families. 100 brand-new winter coats were generously distributed to the children. 7 additional coats were purchased after the party for children that didn’t acquire a perfect fit at the party. Families unable to attend picked up their winter accessories in the week following the celebration and 102 extra coats were donated to CCEVA to support their programs throughout the winter, especially the Eastern Shore Migrant Ministry. The Knights of Columbus made sure each child received a coat that fit, ensuring smiles all around.
Donna Voshell, a longstanding member of the GAP program expressed gratitude, emphasizing its warm, supportive atmosphere, great leadership, and responsiveness to the needs of participating families. Ms. Voshell partnered with GAP in 1998 in the schools and upon her retirement sought CCEVA to keep the program alive. Another grandparent shared, “Being a member of the GAP group means support in so many ways. Most importantly, it’s about meeting other grandparents as parents, getting to know them, and feeling I am not alone.”
CCEVA annually serves over 7,900 local families, offering parenting support, mental health counseling, financial assistance and education, guardianship services, and programs for seniors. A staggering ninety percent of their clients live at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
CCEVA’s Mission: Grounded in faith, Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia serves all, providing professional services and inspiring hope. Learn more about Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia and its programs at www.cceva.org.