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Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Debbie Groth?

Take a moment to meet Debbie Groth and her grandson, who enjoy walking and riding through their neighborhood in Santa Clara.

“Magic garage door, go up!” said three-and-a-half-year-old Ben, pointing a remote control at it.

“Magic garage door, go down!”

Ben was caught up in the thrill of the power in his hands, which he did not understand but loved wielding. He has already worn out two garage doors—those of his parents and grandparents—learning the meaning of “up” and “down.”


“The spring broke on our door,” said his paternal grandmother, Debbie Groth, who cares for Ben at her house in Santa Clara several days a week while his parents are at work.

This October morning before it got too hot, Ben headed off on a shiny, red Schwinn tricycle, a gift from his parents. His grandma walked shotgun as he pedaled—and occasionally pulled—his trike two blocks to the neighborhood park.

“I retired to take care of my grandbabies,” said Groth, who had been the Director of Maternal Child Health at El Camino Hospital, where she worked for 38 years.

Ben was born in May of 2020, and she retired two months later in July.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do when I retired,” said Groth. “This gave me a great opportunity to retire and take care of my grandbabies. I have three now.”

Groth also cares for her daughter’s two children several days a week—19-month-old Valentine and two-month-old Disney. Her retired husband, Henry, pitches in, too.

“I love it. My friend said she has seen a new side of me,” said Groth. “I’m so happy in the morning, waiting for them [her grandbabies] to arrive.”

Some wonder how she has the energy.

“It’s exhausting. You have to have a lot of energy because they go, go, go all day long,” said Groth. “But when you look forward to something and enjoy what you’re doing, it gives you energy. You can’t help but laugh and smile when you’re around these little kids all day.”

Groth considers her family fortunate that her grandbabies have a support system in addition to their parents.

“They get to know us, and we get to know them,” said Groth. “I feel lucky, blessed that I can take care of them, that both of our kids live close enough that we’re able to do it.”

Won’t You Be My Neighbor is a column where we casually interview people we meet in Silicon Valley. The Won’t You Be My Neighbor column hopes to highlight what makes Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and the rest of the South Bay special — the people who live, work and play here.

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