Labor Day Weekend always produces an extreme nostalgia for me, but this year it was especially strong. Our family started the weekend with a Saturday morning trip to the WestFest parade. In my youth, my grandmother, MiMi, would take me to the parade every year. When I was young, I was a spectator, but as I grew, I would ride a horse in the parade along with my older cousins. However, this was the first time I had attended in many years, and it was my first time to see it through my son’s eyes.

Sometimes, when we’re experiencing an event, we have no idea how much it will affect us until years later. It seems like daily, something happens that reminds me of MiMi and our adventures together. I had four amazing grandparents who were very invested in my life, but MiMi was the one that incorporated our relationship into every aspect of her daily life.

We traveled and shopped, laughed until we cried, and celebrated all holidays in a big way, but she was unique in the effort she put into Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Veterans Day. Life with her was fun, but she never forgot what was most important.

She taught me how to celebrate, but she also made sure to teach me how to be a helper. First, I attended vacation bible school, and then, when I was older, I volunteered with her in the kitchen serving cookies and Kool-Aid. We delivered Meals-on-Wheels, distributed poppies on Memorial Day, and made sure to make extra plates on the holidays and deliver them to people in town who couldn’t get out to be with family and friends. She also volunteered at the local hospital and served as a docent at the museum.

When she retired, she took a job as the director of the local senior citizen center. She would always say, “I’ve got to go take care of my old people.” Many were younger than she was, but she believed age was just an attitude! Without realizing it, I believe her spirit of community service and volunteerism truly impacted my career path, and science seems to back me up on this theory.

A study by the BYU Department of Family Life shows a correlation between children’s social behavior and their relationship with their grandparents. The study suggests when grandparents are more engaged in children’s daily lives, they will be more social, more involved in school, and more likely to show compassion for people outside of their immediate family and closest friends. The correlation can be even stronger in single-parent homes.

These relationships are equally important to the grandparents. In a 2018 survey conducted by AARP, almost 90% of grandparents said their relationship with their grandchildren is good for their mental well-being.

In 1978 President Carter declared the Sunday following Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. The statute declaring the holiday states its purpose is “to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer”. However, while it has been around since 1978 Grandparents Day hasn’t become as popular as many other holidays.

With the hectic pace of day-to-day life, we can often forget to stay connected with people we don’t see as part of our routines. However, at United Way of Waco-McLennan County as we work on improving the quality of life for children across our region, we are learning more and more about the important role grandparents can play in the life of a child. If you have a grandparent, I hope you’ll take a few moments to celebrate that relationship and the richness it can bring to your life.

MiMi and her granddaughter having fun!
“As a United Way CIC member, I’ve had the opportunity to champion the way forward at increasing the equity in grant-making. Collectively, we strive to move the dial in a direction whereby funded programs are representative of the communities they serve.”

Paula Solano, 2021 Community Investment Council Member

1516 Austin Ave., Suite 2
Waco, Texas 76701