Since Sept. 11, 2014, Helen Zeerip’s idea of giving hope to foster children through a personalized video aired on television, has grown, gathered momentum and supporters and expanded! And, every year, without fail, we hear how our videos lead to adoption.
Year 1 – Founding & Launching Grant Me Hope
- When Helen Zeerip learned that upwards of 600,000 children spend time in the foster care system each year, AND (of them) there are consistently 125,000 (roughly) available for adoption; AND (of them) more than 23,000 age out annually; AND 25 percent of them become homeless at that time, she was spurred to action! Grant Me Hope and our high-quality, personalized videos of foster children is the result. Read more about why we do this.
- Helen called on Barb Aalderink, owner of Fusion Graphic Consultants, and Jeanette Hoyer, then Executive Director of Pathways MI to help get her idea off the ground. Learn about GMH’s origins.
- The state of Michigan uses the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange as a way to photo-list those foster children who are available for adoption. We work with MARE to tape the children they know most need our help.
- Catherine Behrendt from Grand Rapids’ WZZM – Channel 13 liked the demo and agreed to play the videos of foster children. The first video aired January 6, 2015! WZZM and Catherine remain strong supporters.
- In April 2015, WXYZ, Channel 7 and reporter/newscaster Alicia Smith jumped on board to help Michigan’s Foster children find families! The first child aired April 10, 2015, in Detroit. Our states largest television market was seeing our foster children!
- And, as a result, the first child whose profile aired, received 19 inquiries! This was a child who had no interested parents prior to the video airing! It was an exciting affirmation of our founder’s idea and our mission!
- Helen knew that if she, a foster parent for 14 years and two-time adoptive parent did not know the staggering statistics that follow aged out foster youth, then precious few people do. So she started talking to anyone who would listen! Whether, a church, a Rotary, a motorcycle club, it really doesn’t matter, we will schedule it!
- Several months after Grant Me Hope’s launch, we heard the news that the very first child we aired on WZZM was adopted! Our mission was working!
Year 2 – “It’s a national problem”
- We started our second year strong with the addition of the TV news station 9&10 News, WWUP, which airs in Cadillac, Traverse City and Sault St. Marie. We were on our way to having television coverage around the whole state!
- WCPO in Cincinnati agreed to partner with us and air our foster children. Our first child received FIVE inquires as the result of that TV spot!
- In the spring of 2016 Annette Manwell was volunteering for Grant Me Hope in her spare time. “Netty” first met Helen when she wrote a story for The Holland Sentinel about the start of Grant Me Hope. With both Grant Me Hope and Helen’s business, Teddy’s Transport, getting quite busy, Helen decided she needed a personal assistant and offered Netty the job.
*We’ve been a great team every since!*
- Helen continued with her mission to speak to anyone and everyone who would listen to her, whether church, civic group, or a business lunch, so group was too big, no group was too small. In almost every case, it led to a connection, whether a volunteer, a sponsor, a collaborator, or, in some cases, to a family becoming a foster or adoptive family.
- It was clear in 2016 a major fundraising event was going to be necessary to sustain our mission. Through her speaking and her networking, Helen put together a volunteer team to develop a new and fun event. During a meeting though, a volunteer suggested decals on the back of Helen’s Teddy’s Transport trucks. “I thought it was a great idea!” Helen said. But she also thought it would be great if her competitors got on board. Many did! It was dubbed “Going National” because these trucks would take Grant Me Hope’s mission to our nation’s highways.
- We learned about another adoption in which our video played a role! Our mission was working, one foster child at a time!
Year 3 – 2017 – Busy, exhilarating even!
A rather eventful 2017 started with huge news at the end of 2016! Visit again in a few days to see what was a catalyst for Grant Me Hope growth!