WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
PHOTO | GRANT ME HOPE
Delivering Truckloads of Hope
When Helen Zeerip is in the driver’s seat, she goes full throttle. She is unstoppable. And this drive is as unyielding at her nonprofit Grant Me Hope as it is at her award-winning trucking company.
Zeerip founded Grant Me Hope to rescue an often-forgotten group – foster children. They are in the foster care system through no fault of their own and are innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control. Now, these children wait for someone to give them a permanent home and the love that all children deserve.
One way that Grant Me Hope spearheads rescuing foster children is by assisting them in finding adoptive homes. The nonprofit creates professionally recorded, heartfelt videos featuring the children who are seeking homes. Barbara Aalderink of Fusion Graphic Consultants and her team shoot the one- or two-minute vignettes broadcast via partnering TV stations across Michigan and in several other states.
According to Zeerip, of the roughly 120,000 children available for adoption, finding forever homes is harder for those who are over the age of ten, in sibling groups, or have specific medical/emotional needs.
“Our goal is to get all these foster children adopted, but we have to focus on one child at a time. I tell my team all the time, ‘If we save one child, it was worth all the work!’ And I know we have saved way more,” she said. “I hope to have a presence in every state before I die. And I’m already pretty old,” she laughed, in her Holland office with her two Corgis at her feet.
In the effort to expand their mission nationally, the Grant Me Hope board and staff members recently undertook a capital campaign and are in the planning stages for two large events this fall. On September 25 they will host their 6th annual Family FunFest at Nelis’s Dutch Village and the Holland Town Center.
“We could never do the festival without the support of Nelis’s Dutch Village and the Town Center,” Zeerip stated. She also gives kudos to Chef Orlando Grossi, a beloved Holland caterer who provides food for the event. “We’re incredibly thankful for him, Nathan Shabaz, and their team. It’s always a great success!”
On October 1, Grant Me Hope plans to open a resale store in Hudsonville. The team hopes the store’s success will accomplish three things:
-Fund the production of more videos in other states;
-Be a resource for foster families hosting children who need clothes, shoes, and other items;
-Provide work and training for foster children who have aged out of the foster system when they turned 18, so they are no longer wards of the state. Of the 23,000 who age out every year, 25% become homeless.
Providing housing for children who have nowhere to go is also in the planning stages at Grant Me Hope, according to Zeerip. For every year that a child switches foster homes, he (or she) regresses. So even though he turns 18, he is likely behind average in mastering basic skills and practices needed to manage independently.
“Right now, we have eight aged-out, homeless, foster children living in Holland. They are in your backyard, too. You just haven’t looked for them.”
Anyone interested in helping can reach Zeerip at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to donating, volunteering, fostering, and adopting, she encourages individuals to share the children’s videos via every social media platform. Also, she welcomes groups/organizations/churches to offer her speaking engagements. She has heartwarming stories to tell, possesses a wealth of knowledge about fostering and adopting, and is passionate about foster children advocacy.
Zeerip is also the owner and president of Teddy’s Transport in Holland, a family business with many commendations. In 2013, Teddy’s Transport was honored with the State of Michigan’s Small Business Administration’s “Family Business of the Year.” It was listed among the top 500 fastest-growing companies in 2012. And the Grand Rapids Business Journal honored Zeerip as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan.”
View videos of the adoptable children and heartwarming success stories on the Grant Me Hope website. To find news segments about Grant Me Hope’s adoptable children, view WXYZ in Detroit, WZZM in Grand Rapids, WLNS in Lansing, and WWTV 9 and 10 in Cadillac, Traverse City, and Sault Saint Marie.
Grant Me Hope
930 Interchange Drive
Holland MI 49423