Each year in New York’s Penn Station, The Heart Gallery has an annual exhibit that features large posters of children in foster care waiting to be adopted. Staff members sit at information tables offering details about these children and statistics about youth in foster care, hoping to tug at the heart strings of passersby from all walks of life. There might be someone in that crowd who’s considered adopting from the foster care system, or maybe there’s someone who just seeks to become more socially aware.  Perhaps there’s even someone in the crowd who has the talent and connections to make a huge impact by raising awareness of the issue.

Several years ago, a man named Zach Richter was one of those passersby who felt compelled to take a moment to learn more. He stopped and talked, viewed the posters, and went home with a feeling that there had to be more he could do for the faces on those posters that haunted him. He began researching, speaking to numerous professionals and researchers in the field, and learned alarming facts and statistics with every new contact he made.

The statistics only added fuel to his fire, and his passion for educating the masses about the dire issues surrounding teens in foster care grew with each passing moment. Did you know there are more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting for a permanent, loving family to adopt them? The longer these children wait, the less likely they are to find a “forever family.” Teens in foster care are the hardest to place for adoption and risk joining the 23,000 other youth per year who age out of the system and face multiple negative outcomes such as homelessness, crime, drugs, or pregnancy. These are young adults who have nowhere to call “home.” There is no family (and no home) to return to during holidays. There is no one to call in the middle of the night when they, themselves, become parents and need help raising the next generation. There is no one who feels safe, reliable, and unconditional. These are young adults who need a “someone”—that person who will provide the unconditional love they need to achieve their dreams.

Luckily, the annual exhibit at Penn Station made a huge impact that day because Zach Richter is exactly who you want in your corner when you want to sway the public to become invested in an issue. He makes a living educating others and empowering them to make a difference in society. Richter is an award-winning producer and director of documentaries, capturing the attention of Public Broadcasting System (PBS) viewers (as well as ABC and NBC) for 23 years. When he joined forces with writers and reporters (not to mention Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page), the idea for Unconditional Love was born.  Just now in its early phases, the documentary aims to provide viewers with an understanding of what life is like for a teenager in foster care and how adoption can dramatically change the trajectories of those who find their forever families. In order to open people’s eyes about the vast needs of teens in foster care, donations are needed to get the project off the ground.

Imagine the hundreds of thousands of public television viewers nationwide who might sit down to view Unconditional Love. If even a small fraction of those people were moved to consider adopting a youth in foster care, a dramatic impact could be made. Few mediums drill to the emotional core like a compelling film, and Richter is known for doing exactly that.

Let’s help Zach Richter and Clarence Page get Unconditional Love off the ground as part of our way of giving back to youth in foster care. All contributions are tax deductible, and—in the spirit of giving back—you’ll receive some pretty great perks just for supporting the film. Get a shout-out on social media, an exclusive web chat with the filmmaker and crew, an autographed DVD, or even two seats to the premiere of the documentary in NYC as a thank-you for your support. So what are you waiting for? Let’s join together as a community to help support the making of a documentary that could change the lives of teens in foster care who deserve to have a home base, a place to return home on holidays, and a “someone” who will provide the unconditional love they need to succeed.

Find more information about Unconditional Love and donate via their Indiegogo funding site here:https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/unconditional-love–2#/story.

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