At home in the village of Holley, not a single day goes by that Tammi Bale can forget the night she lost her son.
“March 10th, 2016 I got a phone call about 11 o’clock at night—actually a text saying call me, Bob is dead,” she said.
Her son, Robert Bale, was only 28 when he died of a heroin overdose — one of close to 130 men county officials say were killed by the drug in 2016.
“He hid it well; he hid it from all his friends,” she added.
Bale says her daughter got involved with drugs, too, and was in a dangerous situation. As a result, Bale felt obligated to take sole custody of her grandchildren.
“There was a shooting in Rochester and I went and got my grandchildren because they were in custody and I brought them here,” she said. “That was eight years ago.”
In Rochester, Linda James, another grandmother, shares a similar story about her oldest daughter, Katrina Myers.
Katrina came from Washington D.C. to Upstate New York only to return to D.C. after six months.
“I thought if I brought her here to Rochester to get away from that situation that she would do well,” said James. “In 1991, she was found in an abandoned field, her body was decomposed. She had been strangled with a bag.”
James, too, was faced with the decision to take in her grandchildren. The options were “guardianship or either custody, so that I can keep them.”
Bale and James are far from alone. According to a national database, New York State has an estimated 312,663 kids now living with grandparents. Experts have a term for these kinds of living situations: grandfamilies.
For both women, the most important thing of all is keeping their families together.
By Breon Martin
Home News National Worse than AIDS: Opioid epidemic is public health crisis CDC director fears most
The federal government’s top disease fighter, who built his career battling the emergence of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, says the opioid epidemic will be even worse. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has dubbed the...
Report: Ohio opioid epidemic stretches Medicaid thin
COLUMBUS, Ohio -The state auditor says Ohio's health safety net provided by Medicaid is being stretched thin because of the opioid epidemic. A new report from the Ohio Auditor's Office shows the number of Ohio Medicaid recipients with an opioid-related diagnosis...
An ‘Overprescription of Opioids’ That Led to a Crisis
A woman crouches on the sidewalk next to her boyfriend, who is unresponsive and not breathing after an opioid overdose in the Boston suburb of Everett, Massachusetts, on August 23, 2017.BRIAN SNYDER / REUTERS In 2016, 64,000 people died from drugoverdoses in the U.S.,...