Monday, April 23, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: State Sen. Kimberly Lightford during her annual Grandparents Raising Grandchildren event. | VFP
On Sunday, state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (4th) held her ninth annual “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” event, where three dozen area residents raising grandchildren were honored by the lawmaker.
“Thank you for not leaving your grandchildren in the system,” Lightford said. “Thank you for loving and caring for your grandchildren.”
During the event, held at the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 73 in Hillside, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and his running mate, Juliana Stratton, pledged to restore many of the necessary social programs that Lightford said have been decimated by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“I have spent more than 20 years fighting for early childhood education for our most at-risk kids [in Illinois],” said Pritzker, who easily won the Democratic nomination in April’s primary election.
He added that he’ll work to expand quality childcare assistance and implement universal preschool “so that every child is prepared when they show up to kindergarten.”
Lightford said that the state “is spiraling in the wrong direction” under the current governor before urging those in attendance to vote for Pritzker and Stratton in November.
“It’s something that we have to do,” Lightfod said. “If we don’t, I’ll have to retire. I cannot stay down there in this. [Rauner] has no heart, no passion for low-income and poor people. It doesn’t matter what color you are.”
Lightford said that she approached Pritzker about education before explaining that, in 2006, she introduced a universal preschool for all bill that Pritzker supported.
J.B. Pritzker and Juliana Stratton address attendees at Lightford’s event in Hillside. | VFP
“He was putting his money in the right place and helping the right people for the right reason,” she said.
The state senator explained that her annual event grew out of her close relationship with the late state Rep. Lovana “Lou” Jones, a 10-term legislator who decided to raise her five grandchildren after her daughter died.
Lightford said that she worked with Jones, who died in 2006, on a variety of policy measures to make it easier for grandparents who find themselves in the late legislator’s situation.
Lightford added that she was also motivated to start her annual appreciation event after visiting a West Side school some years ago. The principal told her that 80 percent of the children at the school were being raised by grandparents or extended family members.
“I thought that we should celebrate these grandparents,” Lightford said.
In celebratory fashion, the state senator literally laid out a red carpet for the honored grandparents, who strutted down the plush pathway after an emcee called out their names.
“You all deserve to walk down this red carpet,” Lightford told the honored guest. VFP
For more local news, ‘Like’ our Facebook page