Grant Me Hope
We are a marketing initiative to find older foster children adoptive homes before they term out of the system. We are a collaboration of businesses, MARE (Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange), Michigan Department of Human Services, and Fusion Graphic Consultants.
How long has this organization been around?
The idea was formed Sept. 11, 2014.
Founder: Helen Zeerip, President of Teddy’s Transport
On September 11, 2014, Helen Zeerip, President of Teddy’s Transport, was watching a training video required to renew her foster care license. This video discussed the difficulty of getting foster children in the United States adopted and how huge this problem really is. A young boy in the video, roughly 15 years old, said “My older siblings told me once I reached a certain age, I would be unadoptable.” He paused and, looking sad, said, “No one should steal your hope.”
That statement changed Helen’s life – she agreed with him and thought that it needed to change. The video continued to explain 600,000 children spend time in the foster care system each year in the U.S. Of those available for adoption half are considered unadoptable because they are too old, are part of sibling groups or have medical or emotional issues.
Zeerip learned that California did a marketing campaign to feature its foster children on TV and had a huge success rate of finding them forever homes. Helen then called Jeanette Hoyer, then Executive Director of Pathways MI, and Barb Aalderink of Fusion Graphic Consultants and said “If I can come up with the underwriting/donations, can you help me get these foster children on TV?” They both gave her an enthusiastic “Yes!” They met and set the goal of airing the first child the first week of January 2015 and they made it happen.
Grant Me Hope, a recognized 501c3, now features a video of a foster child weekly on WZZM Grand Rapids, WXYZ Detroit and WWMT Cadillac, Traverse City, Sault Ste. Marie. In 2016, Grant Me Hope expanded into Ohio and has started airing children on WCPO Cincinnati and WKEF and WRGT in Dayton, Ohio. As this is a national problem, Grant Me Hope plans to expand in to every state.
What does the organization provide for the community?
If a child turns 18 and ages out of the foster care system, 25% of them end up homeless. We can’t deal with that. Our goal is to find these children loving, stable homes and families that will raise them to be successful contributing adults to our community. So our focus with Grant Me Hope is to market the older foster children before they term out of the system.
Why is this important?
Not only could a foster child become homeless upon aging out of the system, statistically, their futures look bleak. Foster children who age out of the foster system without being adopted struggle as adults, no matter where they live. One in five face homelessness when they age out. Twenty-five percent will experience homelessness immediately upon aging out of the system or within four years, according to “Foster Care Statistics 2013,” a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children and Families. The report further stated:
- Former foster youth are 5 times more likely than others to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Thirty-three percent of men and 75 percent of women who were foster children rely on government services to meet basic needs.
- They are less likely to graduate from high school or college.
The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, provide similar statistics, saying that:
- At age 18, one in five of those who age out will be homeless.
- By age 24 roughly half of the aged out youth will be unemployed
- Less that 3 percent will earn a college degree
- 71 percent of the women became pregnant by the age of 21
The 2012 Jim Casey “About Youth Aging Out” report said during that year, there were 3.3 million reports taken about violence against children resulting in 251,764 being placed in foster care. “We promised a better life: safety, family, home,” the report reads. “Instead, 23,439 aged out of foster care.”
More than 23,000 is the annual national average for the number of children who age out without ever having been adopted. … That’s an average of 65 children aging out alone each and every day.
What are the goals/mottos/standards that the organization strives to meet?
Grant Me Hope has three goals:
- Educate the public about the plight of the aged out foster child
- Recruit more families to limit the number of children in institutions
- Get as many children adopted as possible
Who is on the Grant Me Hope Board of Directors?
Helen Zeerip, President & Founder
Barb Aalderink, Vice President
Nathan Shabaz, Secretary
Craig Zeerip, Treasurer
Kristen Thompson, board member
For more information about, or if you are interested in serving on the Grant Me Hope Board of Directors, please contact us President Helen Zeerip at 616-836-7949.
If you would be interested in helping fund this project, please cut your tax deductible donation to Grant Me Hope.
Mail Donations to:
Grant Me Hope
930 Interchange Drive
Holland MI 49423