Jerri Rednour, a Family Specialist in the Kinship Connections Program at Beech Acres Parenting Center has been named an Everyday Ohio Hero by the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund. “Jerri is a loving grandmother who provided kinship care for her two grandsons when their home life was interrupted, Kinship Connections Manager Dawn Merritt said. “Jerri provides a safe, loving, and supportive home for her grandchildren.” 

Jerri’s support of kinship care in Ohio doesn’t end with her own individual experience. Jerri has learned and grown from her experience which has driven a passion to provide support to other adults providing kinship care. As a Family Specialist at Beech Acres Parenting Center, Jerri has helped others navigate through the court system and provide community resources that improve children’s well-being, improves family function, and support these other kin caregivers.

Jerri’s road to supporting kinship care providers is a unique one. Jerri worked in the business world as a purchasing specialist for 41 years. After losing her husband to cancer in 2008, Jerri decided it was time to expand her career to something familiar and heartfelt. Jerri became a Weekend Coordinator at the American Cancer Society Cincinnati Hope Lodge, where she worked for 8 years. “I felt a deep personal commitment and wanted to brighten the days of others as they faced possibly their most difficult of times,” Jerri said. Soon after starting this position, Jerri’s life unexpectedly changed. 

An unexpected, and unfortunate set of circumstances interrupted her grandson’s home lives. Without hesitation, Jerri picked them up, took them in, and begin caring for them. “One summer morning I picked up my two young grandsons for the weekend, unaware that this was going to be a new beginning for all of us,” Jerri recalled. “I was so unprepared!” 

Kinship care is often an unexpected situation for grandparents. Brought upon by unexpected and unfortunate circumstances, caring for a loved one’s child can be a difficult transition that often comes long after a caregiver has last cared for a child day to day. What is extraordinary is these grandparents, aunts, uncles and other loving adults step up to care for these children without hesitation and often without any idea where to turn for help.  “The boys and I clung together out of fear and necessity and together we built our new, unconventional family one challenge at a time, Jerri said. “Finding help was like mining diamonds, oh so precious and oh so rare.

As her job at the Hope Lodge was ending, Jerri decided she wanted to continue something heartfelt, meaningful, and familiar. Her job search led her to Beech Acres Parenting Center. “The position I discovered mirrored my most recent experience, my life, my passion…Kinship Care,” Jerri said. 

I wanted to smooth the transition, lessen the stress, and fill in the gaps for all new Kinship Families,”  Jerri said. “I wanted to help those that shared the same feelings that I did as a new Kin Caregiver when I was surprised, overwhelmed, and lost!  I had great love to share and high expectations, but what I did not have was direction, support, and financial assistance.” Kinship Connections, with support from the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund, Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren and Clinton Counties, and OhioKAN, helps kin caregivers find financial resources, navigate complex paperwork, and connect with other families in similar situations. It was a perfect fit for Jerri. “Jerri is an inspiration, not just for how she has stepped up for her own family, but for her support of other kinship caregivers in the state of Ohio,” Dawn Merritt said. 

Jerri is humbled to be honored as an Everyday Ohio Hero but is very proud of her work with other kinship providers in Ohio. “I am continually proud to be a part of Beech Acres Parenting Center and Kinship Connections, and for my personal journey, I am proud to say, “Boys, we made it!” 

Jerri and her grandsons.