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#LOVEUP Supporting Children Living Within the Foster Care System

Friday, May 18, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Andrea Evans
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By Jamie Killin

The Story

It’s a rare occurrence for an autocorrect
fail to lead to something great, but
that was the case with #LoveUp. KISS
FM Phoenix radio host and #LoveUp
Foundation co-founder Johnjay Van Es
was texting Hall of Fame quarterback
Kurt Warner about their sons’ football
game when Warner accidentally
texted “love up” instead of “love it.”

Van Es instantly knew it would be a
great name for something bigger.

“Kurt wrote, ‘love up’ — I mean ‘love
it’ — and he goes, ‘stupid autocorrect.’
I’m sitting there staring at it. ‘Love Up.’
You know, that is so good,” Van Es said of
the conversation. “So I text him right then and
there and say, ‘Dude, you should take Love Up
and you should use that to promote kindness.”

While Warner didn’t end up using the slogan,
Van Es mentioned it on the radio and it took
of — prompting listeners to tweet logos
for #LoveUp and inspiring one listener to
make T-shirts. The T-shirts became a huge
success and it became the name of the
Johnjay & Rich charitable foundation.

“Somehow, #LoveUp became bigger than
Johnjay and Rich Care for Kids, because
Johnjay and Rich Care for Kids took place in
December and we’d talked about trying to
do things for people all year long. Because
of our connection to foster kids — my
oldest son was adopted — we tied that in
and it morphed,” said Van Es. “One day
we all just started calling the foundation
#LoveUp, then we ofcially changed.”

Now, the foundation includes LOVEUP
Movement & Moments, which hosts events
and experiences for children in the foster
care system; Heart Gallery, which works in
partnership with the Department of Child
Safety to take photographs of children in the
foster care system; #LovePup, which finds
homes for rescue animals; and Christmas
Wish, which grants wishes to children and
families in need during the holidays.

The Cause

#LoveUp primarily focuses on ofering
support services to children in foster care by
hosting events for kids, raising awareness,
and supporting the Department of Child
Safety through the Heart Gallery program.

According to #LoveUp, there are 425,000
children in the foster care system
nationally and one in five will become
homeless after the age of 18. One in four
will experience PTSD, and fewer than 3
percent will earn a college degree.

“It’s hard, because there are so many needs
just in foster care,” said KISS FM Phoenix radio
host and #LoveUp Foundation co-founder
Supporting children living within the foster care system
Johnjay Van Es and Rich Berra have been
spreading kindness throughout the communities
they serve and helping kids for more than 15 years.

Rich Berra. “There are little babies that need to
be adopted, kids that are aging out that need
mentorship and jobs. There are kids in the
middle that are at the prime time where people
are probably looking for a 7 or 8 year old.”

Van Es and Berra’s families also make a
diference by engaging with the cause —
with both founders’ children spending time
with the kids, Van Es’s wife Blake helping
to make connections between parents and
adoptable children and Berra’s wife Kristi
helping to lead the Heart Gallery initiative.

“It’s great seeing our kids get involved
and seeing the connections that the
kids that are in foster care make,
because we don’t know what life is like
for them in group homes,” said Berra. “I
can’t imagine being ripped away from
the only world I’ve ever known — my
parents — and then being put in some
group home with a bunch of kids who
don’t like me or don’t want to have
anything to do with me or who have
their own problems to worry about
and how lost you must feel and how
unbelievably traumatic that can be.”

The Future

Van Es and Berra plan to continue
raising awareness and support for
foster children and encouraging
others to get involved as well.

“A lot of times we’ll talk to other radio
shows and they’ll say, ‘You guys do
so much,’” said Berra. “We don’t want
people to say, ‘Oh, we can’t keep
up with that.’ Like, beat us. Do more.
Please get out there and do it. It’s a
big job. If every single radio host and
every single TV show host in this entire
city were working to get kids adopted
there’d still be a lot of kids that need
to be adopted. It’s a giant mountain.”

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