COLUMNIST BIO: Lenda Ricards is the founder of First Grandmother Club, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children who are in need of a grandmother's love and support.
February 1, 2002 Dear Friends, On January 24, 1997, I experienced a life-changing experience. My first grandchild Gracie was born. I held her when she was just a few minutes old, and that tiny thief “stole my heart, and took my breath away”. I was transformed into a GRANDMOTHER, and that new career has become the most rewarding and cherished activity of my life. I know that you are smiling and nodding as you read this, because I know that you, too, have experienced this phenomenon, and have been so touched by your own grandchild. I have talked with many of you about my granddaughter, and listened with a true understanding while you talked about your grandchildren. I have commented to many of you that we should form a club to get together to share the joy of experiencing our grandchildren; I even came up with a name for it: FIRST GRANDMOTHERS’ CLUB. Because I, like you, am very busy with a lot of demanding activities, I never quite got around to actually forming the club, but I did reserve the name for a website on the Internet. On November 9, 1999, I was blessed with another beautiful granddaughter, Bridget. She is equally marvelous and unique as her sister. I marvel daily at how wonderful their tiny lives are, and I cannot be with them enough, nor do enough for them. I enjoy buying them a new toy, or feeding them a new food, or sharing a new activity with them. They are flourishing with all the love and attention that their parents and extended family have provided them. They seem to know that they are indeed fortunate to have such love and attention. The wonder of these grandchildren has spilled over in my life, and I now notice ALL children, loving and appreciating them as never before. I wonder if they are receiving the love they deserve, and the resources that ensure a healthy development. I cry every time I read in the newspaper about a baby being abused or left in a dumpster, or about a family not having enough food or shelter. Every time my grandchildren happily blow out the candles on their birthday cake, my heart tugs, as I think about those children who have never had a cake. At Christmas, as my granddaughters share the magic of the season, and open an array of gifts, I think of the little ones that Santa forgot. In March of this year, I will welcome my third grandchild into my world, and I have made that the deadline for actually DOING something about FIRST GRANDMOTHERS’CLUB. I still haven’t completely grasped exactly what it is that the group will do…I want your input on that. I’ve got some good ideas, and I know that you will, too. I am certain, however, that there is something very important that we, together, can do. I hope that FIRST GRANDMOTHERS’ CLUB will provide and outlet for the overflowing love that we baby-boomer grandmothers have for our grandchildren, and that we can make a difference in the lives of children all over the world in honor of our own grandchildren. Whenever our grandbabies have a special event to celebrate, we can gratefully celebrate with them, and then share our love with other, less fortunate little ones, by making a donation in their honor. It could be a donation of money, time, or expertise, but it could make a huge impact on the life of another child, maybe one that we don’t even know. It could be an unborn child, a newborn with health problems, a kindergartener starting school with no clothes, or even a teenager with green spiked hair! There are so many possibilities. I am sending you this letter because you are my friend, and because I know that you are smart, and loving, and capable. I want you to help me with this project. There are no requirements, dues, or strings attached. I just want to meet together to brainstorm ideas, and to see if you want to be involved. Love, Lenda
Editor’s note:November 7, 2002 The First Grandmother’s Club became a reality when the first meeting was held at the Amon Carter Western Art Museum to adopt bilaws, mission statement, goals and objectives, and elect officers. Over 350 women, from all walks of life, have now joined together to transform the vision to “share the love” with children, less fortunate, by circumstances or acts of birth, a reality.Through quarterly programs, financial donations, volunteerism, and material gifts, our meetings center on sharing from our abundance rather than on social gatherings and typical meeting agendas.. Our purpose is sto help children in need.Visit the First Grandmother’s Club website at www.firstgrandmothersclub.com.