Back in March 2018, 9-year-old Gavin Henss got a surprise any kid his age would dream of: courtside tickets to a basketball game between the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
One of the players on the court that night was LeBron James, who had drawn harsh criticism for his comments about President Trump a couple weeks beforehand — prompting a Fox News host to tell James, “Shut up and dribble.”
Seeing an opportunity to show his support for one of his favorite players, Gavin made a sign just hours before the game. On the sign, he wrote a phrase inspired by James’ social media posts addressing Ingraham’s criticism. It read:
That night, James gave Gavin a thumbs up and asked his security guard to give Gavin his shooting sleeve after the game. James’ attention alone was a thrill for Gavin and his dad, but the biggest surprise was yet to come.
By the following morning, images of Gavin and his sign were going viral. USA Today, Bleacher Report, and Sports Illustrated all covered the story, and the hashtag #NeverShutUp took Twitter by storm.
So why does all of this matter to Homes for Good?
The words written on that sign later inspired Gavin and his family to launch our Non-Profit of the Quarter for January – March 2019: Giving Sole, a charity that empowers children in the Arizona foster care system to stand up and be heard.
Plus, Austin Bates and V.I.P. Mortgage, our generous 2018 sponsorship partner, will be matching all donations as a Homes for Good title sponsor and helping Giving Sole get even closer to reaching their goal!
The Giving Sole Mission
Giving Sole has a simple yet powerful mission: to remind foster children that they are more than their circumstances and that their voices matter. It’s a mission that’s been close to the Henss’ hearts ever since they became a short-term foster family to a little girl.
“After our [foster daughter] left our home, we weren’t emotionally ready to foster another child,” says Gavin’s dad, Shawn. “But Gavin still wanted to find a way to support children in foster care. He wanted to help.”
Gavin and his parents weren’t sure what this help would look like until the basketball game that catapulted Gavin into Internet stardom. After seeing the impact his sign made on so many sports fans, Gavin and his family decided to use this same message as the platform for Giving Sole.
In homage to the charity’s inspiration, Giving Sole gifts children in foster care brand new athletic shoes in a branded Giving Sole bag. Along with each pair of shoes is a handwritten note from Gavin with inspiring messages like, “I can’t wait to see what you’ll grow up to be” and “You are so much more than your circumstances.”
Gavin and his parents hope each message reminds kids that their voices matter, and that the shoes are a constant reminder of their inherent worth. It’s also why Giving Sole gifts only brand new, brand name shoes.
“When you’re a kid, walking into school with a brand new pair of Nike or Adidas shoes is a big deal,” says Gavin’s dad, Shawn. “We want to give these kids not just what they need, but what they deserve.”
Each pair costs around $50, funded by donations made by individuals as well as local organizations. So far, Giving Sole has gifted shoes to 40 children in foster care across Arizona. The Henss family hopes to increase that number to 100 by March of 2019.
That’s why Homes for Good is excited to announce that over the next three months, we’ll be partnering with Giving Sole to help reach that goal — and to spread awareness about kids in need within the foster care system.
Why It Matters
Arizona has one of the country’s highest proportions of children in the foster care system. As of 2017, an estimated 18,000 children were either awaiting foster families or living with foster parents in the state.
The goal with foster children is to reunite them with their biological parents, so many foster families are temporary caregivers. This means many foster children arrive at their foster parents’ homes with only the clothes they’re wearing and often without any way to carry their possessions.
Though foster families receive a small monthly stipend while caring for these children, this stipend often only covers expenses related to childcare or basic necessities. Something as simple as a new pair of shoes is considered a luxury.
Gavin and his family hope the shoes provided by Giving Sole make foster kids feel special and that the bag they send these shoes with can be used to hold their possessions if and when they move between homes.
How You Can Help
By attending an open house, signing up for the Homes for Good newsletter, or inviting a friend to sign up, you can give a foster child in Arizona a new pair of shoes and a new voice. You’re also invited (though certainly not obligated) to donate directly to Giving Sole at one of our open houses.
VISIT AN OPEN HOUSE:
$5 per open house
Plus $1 for every guest who enters that enters the home (including agents and their clients)
JOIN THE NEWSLETTER:
$1 for every guest that joins the Homes for Good newsletter
We are so excited to help Giving Sole in their mission to give Arizona foster kids a voice. We’ll send updates to our newsletter recipients throughout the campaign, so stay tuned!