Julianna Hallman spends most of her time in Haiti loving on the 186 children who live at the Life is Hope orphanage. Hallman, a native of Jasper, made her first trip to the impoverished country in December and returned in June. The orphanage is supported by a local nonprofit of the same name. Its main fundraiser is the sale of Life is Hope coffee, which is roasted in Jasper. Photo Special to the Eagle
Few college students get to hang out every day with radio personalities Rick Burgess and Bill “Bubba” Bussey of “The Rick and Bubba Show.”
Even fewer have a chance to appeal to the hearts of the duo’s 3.5 million listeners on behalf of a worthy cause.
Jasper native Julianna Hallman, known to “The Rick and Bubba Show” audience as intern Juju, was given that opportunity in June.
Hallman joined the show in January and usually works behind the scenes. However, last month she was interviewed twice on-air about Life is Hope, a nonprofit based in Jasper that supports an orphanage in Haiti.
Hallman requested an opportunity to share the Life is Hope story after learning that the 186 children at the orphanage were not eating every day because funds were running low.
“I got a text message from the director of Life is Hope when I was at ‘Rick and Bubba’ one morning. That afternoon I went straight to Bubba and said, ‘I need your help,’” Hallman said.
Hallman was battling nerves during the live broadcast and received little help from the experienced radio hosts.
At one point, she heard herself going into painstaking detail about orphans being children without parents.
“Rick and Bubba normally leave right after the show, but they stayed an hour to make fun of me,” Hallman said.
The flub led to a second appearance on-air the following day. Hallman was hesitant, knowing the relentless jokes she was in for from the two self-proclaimed “Sexiest Fat Men Alive.”
Burgess took her aside before the segment to reassure her.
“He said, ‘We love you, Juju, and we want to support what you love and we don’t want to hurt your feelings with it.’ Me being on there that second time for them to make fun of me did bring more publicity to Life is Hope, and that is what I ultimately wanted,” Hallman said.
Between the two appearances, Hallman was granted approximately an hour of airtime to spread the word about Life Is Hope.
Hallman later clarified for her Facebook friends what she had been trying to say about orphans with a quote from “Radical” author David Platt: “We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”
Hallman made her first trip to Haiti in December 2011.
Her father, Jeff Hallman, was originally scheduled to go but felt led at the last minute to ask his daughter to take his place.
The children at the orphanage immediately stole her heart.
Life is Hope was founded in Port-au-Prince in 2001 for 60 children but doubled in size as a result of the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010.
The orphanage, which until recently was based out of a three-bedroom house, now consists of an 11-bedroom house for girls and a slightly smaller facility for boys.
Life is Hope recently started a sponsorship program to help feed the children. The cost is $38 a month. Nearly half of the children are still without sponsors.
Hallman sponsors one 5-year-old little boy at Life is Hope who watched both of his parents die in the earthquake. She refers to all of the orphans as “my kids,” however.
“They don’t have a mom to love them or heal their boo-boos. When they fall down, they don’t have anybody to go cry to. We’re the closest thing to parents they’re ever going to have,” she said.
Hallman, a junior public relations major at Samford University, has enrolled in a Haitian Creole class in the fall semester.
“That is a language. Rick and Bubba thought it was a food,” Hallman joked.
Her goal is to live in Haiti next summer.
For information on how to book Rick and Bubba for your next event, visit premierespeakers.com/rick_and_bubba.
Sourse: Daily Mountain Eagle