Wednesday’s Child: Michigan’s Grant Me Hope
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - WNDU shares the stories of Indiana foster children in need of adoption, but it’s not just a Hoosier problem. Tricia Sloma found a mom in nearby Holland, Michigan who is dedicated to finding homes for foster children there, too.
Helen Zeerip is a woman on a mission and on the move.
She owns a trucking company based in Holland, Michigan. Teddy’s Transport was started by her father.
“He started out with one little pickup truck,” Zeerip said. “Started doing local pickups and deliveries between Holland, Zeeland area and Grand Rapids.”
As the family business grew, so did Helen’s family.
When her kids were small, she and her husband Craig became foster parents.
“We ended up then getting asked if we would adopt. Now that was a big tailspin for me because that was not my goal to adopt, right? I had three children of my own. And life was busy, right? You’re running a business and whatever and my husband said ‘It’s not going to hurt to meet them.’,” said Zeerip.
They adopted two children from foster care, but it was during her foster training when Helen saw a video that would change everything.
“This little boy comes on. He’s maybe 15, and he said this- and it changed my life- he said, ‘My older siblings told me once I reach a certain age, I’ll be unadoptable.’ Then he paused and looked real sad and said, ‘No one should steal your hope.’ That hit me so wrong and I thought oh, I should watch this better,” said Zeerip.
She learned statistics that she found disturbing.
Adoptuskids.org reports the most recent federal data shows there are over 400 thousand children in foster care in this country with more than 100 thousand of them waiting to be adopted. Sadly, approximately 20 thousand of these kids will age out of the foster care system. Many of them will end up homeless.
“In fact, when I found this out, I found out we had six aged out homeless kids living behind the local grocery store here in Holland,” said Zeerip. “It’s right here in our backyard and it’s in your backyard too. People just don’t realize it. 13
So, Zeerip used her network of business friends to come up with a way to share the kids’ stories on television. She started a non-profit organization called Grant Me Hope.
“We aired our first kid January 6th, 2015 and we’ve aired a kid every week since,” said Zeerip.
Now in three other states, the Grant Me Hope production team travels to cities far and wide to meet the kids and tell their stories.
“My goal, and I’ve got to live awhile, but my goal is to be in every state,” said Zeerip. “To have Grant Me Hope in every state.”
In the meantime, she’s also spreading the word from the backs of semi-trucks as they travel throughout America. Zeerip hopes even more companies will be willing to sport these signs to spread the message of Grant Me Hope.
“If we do all of this work and we only save one child? It’s worth it. It’s worth it. And I know we’ve saved way more than one,” said Zeerip.
WNDU will partner with Grant Me Hope to share their stories as part of our Wednesday’s Child segments.
“Channel 16, you guys rock,” said Zeerip. “We’ll get these kids on the air and we’ll land more tv stations to do what you’re doing. And it will be a great partnership. So I thank you for that.”
For more information on Grant Me Hope, including children available for adoption and ways to donate, click here.
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