Guest blog post by Isabella Glazer, Bella’s Group Founder. Bella’s Group was chosen as a featured “Hope for the Holidays” organization and is in need of laptops, gift cards for household supplies, food, clothes and toys, and resources for group family events: http://flpartnersforpromise.com/hope.shtml
When my sister Gabriella and I were in grade school (I was in 4th grade and Gabriella was in 3rd grade) we went to live with our grandparents, Drs. Ira and Marietta Glazer, because there were difficulties with our family. It was strange at first, but Noni (Italian for grand mom) and Grandpa were so loving and caring, we soon found life to be “normal.”
Noni is VERY active. She’s been a volunteer with several area charities. My sister and I found we were being invited to attend some of the charity events, so you might say we learned about the non-profit work while we learned about math, social studies and history in school.
Although things were going along nicely, I felt it would be neat to meet other young people who were being raised by their grandparents. We looked for a support group – and we looked a lot! We asked around at school, church, on the Internet, but couldn’t find anything. We did find out that in Broward County there are about 35,000 children being raised by family members that were not their parents; sometimes uncles and aunts, and some were being raised by their great grandparents. But no support group where we could socialize.
So with Noni’s encouragement, Gabriella and I started Bella’s Group in 2009! We came up with a plan. We would give free parties so that the children would have a really fun time and get a chance to meet other kids that were in similar situations. It would help the kids realize they aren’t the only ones not being raised by their parents. Noni then suggested we invite people who worked at social service agencies so they could give the adults some advice, help them find resources, guidance and receive support by meeting other caregivers, all while the children are playing.
Things have worked out well. We give a few parties a year – pool parties, an afternoon of bowling at Manor Lanes, and what has become an annual holiday party.
But we are not just parties! Here are some of the things we do to help people in our community:
- We have partnered with other non-profits like the Pantry of Broward, encouraging children and adults to bring canned goods and food to our events.
- We are very proud of is our Back-to-School Backpacks which we have been doing for the past few years. We have a back-pack drive where people drop off new school supplies and back packs as well as donations and we deliver fully loaded back-to-school back packs to agencies in Broward County.Our Bella Bags are special packages for children who are leaving their homes because of domestic violence or other difficulties. Many times they have to leave without being able to pack some essentials like tooth brushes, hair brushes, personal care items. We also include a ‘cuddle blanket’ and sippy cups.
Oh, yes — Noni and Grandpa adopted us about five years ago. We are both members of the Florida Youth Orchestra, where Gaby plays the Violin and I play the flute. We take ballet and have a black stripe in Taekwondo. We also actively participate at our school nativity, where we are altar servers, sing in the choir, attend lectures and sometimes usher. I play basketball and Gaby is a cheerleader. We are both members of the drama club and this year we are doing “Sussical the Musical” – I am the “Cat in the Hat” and Gaby is “Mazy.” We make good grades, go to Walt Disney World once a year, take really amazing vacations with Noni and Grandpa and know we are blessed and are surrounded by love!
Note: Bella’s Group was chosen as a featured “Hope for the Holidays” organization and is in need of laptops, gift cards for household supplies, food, clothes and toys, and resources for group family events. Visit “Hope for the Holidays” to help them this holiday season.