MASON COUNTY, W.Va. — For the first time, some grandparents raising their grandchildren will find support in Mason County from West Virginia State University’s Healthy Grandfamilies Program beginning this week.

What will be a nine-week discussion series focused on information and available resources followed by post-training services for those grandparents was scheduled to start Thursday in Point Pleasant.

The 14 participants will meet once a week at Trinity United Methodist Church.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while,” said Jerry Warren, Mason County Schools coordinator for special education and preschool services, of the launch.

An estimated 157 students out the roughly 3,970 total in Mason County’s schools are in the care of their grandparents, according to Warren.

“Some of those are due to parents dropping those grandchildren off and going out of state to work. Some of them are due to parents being incarcerated. Some are due to deceased parents,” he said.

“Some are just parents that are missing. They’re just not involved. They’ve dropped them off with the grandparents and left.”

Healthy Grandfamilies is a free program for participants funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture that has continued to expand across West Virginia.

Along with Mason County, Healthy Grandfamilies programs were also scheduled to begin this month in the following counties: Berkeley, Cabell, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Harrison, Marion, Taylor and Wetzel.

A full listing of training events statewide was posted HERE.

“We’re going to rotate between three different locations,” Warren said of the future plans in Mason County.

This fall, the Healthy Grandfamilies Program was being planned for New Haven before a move next spring to Ashton.

Possible topics included communication, technology and social media, nutrition, legal issues and documents, health literacy and self-care, healthy lifestyles and stress management, family relationships and negotiating the public school system.

Follow-up services have included help locating community resources, advocacy services and assistance with other unique family needs.

“We hope that they (the Mason County participants) will network with each other from then on and have somebody they can call when they feel like they’re at a point where they don’t know what to do,” Warren said.

“We want to make sure they have a network of other grandparents, that they’re not alone.”