“My friends told me I was crazy…”

At 70 years old, Sylvia* never expected to be running around 24/7 raising her three rambunctious granddaughters. But the problems began when Anna,* Sylvia’s daughter, fell into the clutches of drug addiction. Anna was attracted to danger like a magnet, and she soon married a violent man and had three children with him. Sylvia watched helplessly as her daughter’s life fell apart, but she could not stand by as her grandchildren suffered from abuse and neglect. 

“All my friends told me I’m crazy. They told me I’m too old. But I did what I had to do. I raised my grandchildren as my own,” Sylvia said. 

Tragically, Sylvia is the only mother these children know. She is the one who feeds them, plays with them, and constantly showers them with hugs and kisses. But without any financial support, Sylvia struggled to pay the bills. She could no longer afford basic necessities for herself or the kids.

“I didn’t know how I would survive any more. We were at rock bottom. So I picked up the Liberator magazine that I received from the Aleph Institute and called their Family Services Department. From that moment on, I was not alone anymore.” 

The girls needed coats and boots for the winter? Done. Sylvia couldn’t afford to send them to summer camp? Done. Up until then, the girls hadn’t received any Jewish education, but Aleph Family Serviced arranged for their enrollment in a local Hebrew School. Done. 

Sylvia and her grandchildren are also enrolled in the “Aleph Angels” program, where social work students have weekly check-ins over the phone or on Facetime with family members of those who are incarcerated, providing 1:1 support on a consistent basis

Sylvia constantly keeps in touch with the loving members of her “Aleph Family,” as she calls them, sometimes to share a picture of her beautiful grandchildren or just to have a listening ear on an especially rough day.

“I’ll never forget when I was on the phone with [a case manager] from Aleph and I casually mentioned that it was my 70th birthday. The very next day, I opened my front door and found a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a Happy Birthday message. It was so thoughtful, it brought me to tears.”