Capturing a special connection

Capturing a special connection

Cynthia Wilcox
Pawtucket woman photographs bond between grandmother and grandchild – for free

PAWTUCKET – As a social worker, Cynthia Wilcox finds that the most powerful family connection is often found between grandmothers and their grandchildren, especially at a time when so many children are being raised by their grandmothers.

Wilcox, a resident of downtown Pawtucket, is taking her hobby of photography on the road, traveling around in search of grandmothers and their grandchildren who want to be photographed.

“The Grandmother Connection,” as Wilcox calls it, is entirely free for those she photographs. There is no catch, she says. Her subjects receive a framed black-and-white photo and all the digital copies they want.

“I’m 77 years old. I’m not retired, I’m still working,” she said. “I want to be able to give back in some way and use my photography skills.”

“This is my contribution, my way of giving back,” she added. “I’m bringing them together.”

A social worker and mental health advocate in private practice for some 40 years, Wilcox said her experience with clients has taught her that “the most important connections, especially for teenagers from broken homes, is with their grandmothers.”

Wilcox moved to Pawtucket about 18 months ago. She said she’s been getting to know the city, reaching out to both the mayor’s office and Maj. Michael Newman of the Pawtucket Police Department to connect her with people who might be interested in the service she’s offering. She’s also approached some schools, like Baldwin Elementary School, and said she’s had a warm reception from staff there.

Newman introduced Wilcox to one grandmother whose daughter is now serving time in jail. The grandmother had been approved to take her grandchildren in and had secured a place to live with them. When Wilcox came to deliver a framed photo of the woman with her grandchild, the woman started to cry. She placed it in a prominent spot, the only decoration in the mostly bare apartment.

Wilcox has two children and four grandchildren of her own, with her grandchildren ranging in age from 10 years old to early 20s.

Some have asked Wilcox if she would consider photographing grandfathers with their grandchildren, but she says the grandfather relationship “just is not the same.” On the grandmother-grandchild connection, she says, “I just want to honor that and make that important.”

In her fliers, Wilcox quotes “Profile Of My Grandma” from poet Bridget Miller:

“The way it smells when she cooks. When you’re bad, the way she looks. How she would do anything to help a friend. The way she’ll stick by you until the end. She’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Unless you get on her bad side, then you’re in for a treat. The way she’ll cheer you up when you’re down. And how she helps you to turn your frown. The way she jokes and laughs with me, her soul so kind so sweet, so free. She inspires me in different ways every day. My grandma is wonderful in every way.”

To book a free grandmother-grandchildren photo session with Wilcox, call 401-451-5082 or email . Visit for more.