Ailing grandmother, 65, takes care of 3 teenagers


POSTED: Sunday, December 13, 2009

The most gratifying gift for an ailing grandmother raising three grandchildren would be to have their parents get off drugs and be able to take care of them.

Waipahu resident Lynnette Iona, 65, said, “;I'm really tired, really tired. Sometimes I ask God if he can take me away. ... These teenagers are driving me crazy. I wish I could go into a senior center and lie down and have people take care of me.”;

While her daughter and son-in-law have been in and out of drug treatment programs to no avail, Iona said she has been forced at times to live on the beach with the children. Her respiratory problems and other ailments and diseases have rendered her unable to work the past 10 years, and she is looking for a cheaper place to live.

“;All I want for Christmas is my three side teeth that I don't have,”; Iona joked. She does need kitchen utensils—“;I only own one fork!”;

The Adopt-A-Family program is run by Helping Hands Hawaii to bring some Christmas cheer to struggling families like Iona's. Donations to the Star-Bulletin's annual Good Neighbor Fund support this program.

Iona has been raising since birth a granddaughter who is 19 years old, pregnant and has been through substance abuse treatment. She adopted two others—a grandson, now 13, and granddaughter, now 16—in 2005 when the state Child Protective Services was going to put them into foster homes, she said. She wants to get her grandson, who has been in trouble for “;stealing, disobedience and smoking pakalolo (marijuana)”; into a treatment program before it's too late.

“;I love my family but I can only do so much. I try. I try. Sometimes I tell them: I'm going to let the courts have you. But I can't. These are my grandchildren. I can't throw them out there. I wouldn't want someone to do that to me!”; she said.

Her Catholic Charities case manager Kimberly Kalua said Iona “;remains the propeller of the family. Despite her own health problems, she continues to assist with her family. At times she feels overwhelmed. We try to assist her with finding housing. The place they're living now is not safe ... not a good environment for the children.”;

Kalua said Iona could use some respite and money for activities for the family to enjoy together, such as going to the movies or a water amusement park.

Iona is living on her disability pension and state assistance for her two youngest grandchildren until they reach 18; she also receives federal housing assistance, Kalua said.








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