Cindy Grant joined the Nyanyas of Niagara after she attended a Motown concert the group put on at Jackson-Triggs Winery three years ago.
She says they were able to donate $20,000 to the Stephen Lewis Foundation from that event, and she was so impressed by all of it she decided to become involved.
That’s how she found herself on the steering committee organizing a luncheon for May 9.
Grant says Terry Mactaggart and Sandra Hardy started this chapter of the foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in 2007. She explains that when Stephen Lewis went to Africa in 2003, he witnessed an alarming number of grandmothers caring for their grandchildren, because a generation had been wiped out by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He began the campaign as a way to draw attention to the issue, and to allow people to raise money to support these people in need. There are now more than 240 groups supporting African grandmothers who care for their orphaned grandchildren.
The Nyanyas (a word that means “grandmothers” in Swahili) of Niagara have raised and donated about $100,000 to the foundation since their inception.
However, last year was a lean one for them. They held only one luncheon, and were feeling the effects of burnout and disengagement. So Grant, Mactaggart and fellow steering committee member Linda Carleton decided to hold another luncheon with a special focus. They have invited Stephen Lewis Foundation interim executive director Zahra Mohamed to speak, and asked her to address a specific topic. “We have given her the heads-up that we want her to talk about how to reenergize the group in town,” says Grant.
She says another way to find new energy is to recruit new members. “We need some new blood, and some new energy and ideas,” says Grant. So encouraging people to join will also be a focus of the luncheon in the Cellar Room at the Old Winery Restaurant. “There are no dues; members just get a newsletter and invitations to become a supporter at events,” she says.
You don’t even need to be a grandparent. “We call it ‘grandmothers and grandothers.’ There are no criteria to join — it is mainly females, but everyone is welcome.”
Grant enthuses about the foundation’s good work, saying, “over the years it has had so much support it has been able to build schools, daycares, create women’s groups, and so much more.”
The luncheon starts at 11:30 a.m., and will be done by 2:30 p.m., Grant says. There are door prizes to be won, as well as a few items for sale to raise further funds. Tickets are $45, and all profits go to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
If you have any questions about the event or membership, call Linda Carleton at 905-327-1354, or Terry Mactaggart at 905-468-2438.
Cutline: Cindy Grant is hoping to bring new energy to the Nyanyas of Niagara with a presentation by the Stephen Lewis Foundation interim executive director Zahra Mohamed. (Lauren O’Malley)