FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 7, 2017



Somer Flowers, SC Heart Gallery Foundation Board Member





The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates the Angels in Adoption® Program, will honor Greenvillian Clark Smith at an awards ceremony on September 26 and gala on September 27 in Washington, D.C.

Congressman Trey Gowdy (SC-04) congratulated Mr. Smith for his outstanding advocacy as Chairman of South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation.

“Congratulations to our Angel in Adoption, Clark Smith, Chairman of the South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation. Through his passion for video production and his heart for foster children, he has opened the door for hundreds of families looking into adoption. His impact on the lives of South Carolina’s foster care community is immeasurable.”

“The Angels in Adoption® Program is a unique annual opportunity in the nation’s Capital to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children. Since the program’s inception, over 2,600 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with Members of Congress, highlighting its joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director at CCAI.

Clark Smith is being honored because his extensive background in video production, business development, and marketing has made an incredible impact on children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted. Clark has chaired the South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, since January 2009.  The Foundation provides media and marketing support for the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which recruits adoptive families for children in foster care. In 2014, Clark began filming live interviews with the children who attended Heart Gallery photo shoots. The ability to virtually meet the children led to a significant increase in child-specific inquiries, as well as to hundreds more potential families applying to adopt. Many foster children have been matched with their forever family simply as a result of the video interview Clark facilitated.

The Angels in Adoption® Program is CCAI’s signature public awareness event and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 120 “Angels” are being honored through the Angels in Adoption® Program.

The Angels in Adoption® Program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating in an extraordinary awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.

CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. For more information, visit



The Power of Video

If you’ve been following our blog or Facebook page for a while now, you’ve probably already seen some of the individual child profile videos that we’re creating. Yes, they’re fun. They are also heartwarming and powerful—mainly because the children in foster care in our state are so awesome.


But our decision to move into videos was strategic for other reasons as well. Here’s some of the research behind why the SC Heart Gallery Foundation videos have been so successful:


In a Forbes article last year, Brent Weinstein, Head of Digital Media at United Talent Agency, explained the increasing influence of digital video creators in spaces such as YouTube.


“The leverage they have with audiences is something we’ve never seen before. It’s a medium we’ve never seen before, in terms of quality, how it extracts response from its audience, and the power that the individual creator wields,” Weinstein said.


The article notes that on 2012, one hour of YouTube video was uploaded every second. In 2013, 72 hours of online video was uploaded to YouTube every minute. People are making and consuming videos en masse, making YouTube a media powerhouse.


Another article by Richard Tiland, CEO of New Evolution Video, in Forbes in June 2014 reinforced that video is “The Premier Communications Tool Of Today.”


“The use of video is so ubiquitous in our everyday lives, it has become part of our subconscious.  We don’t even realize how much we know and learn from vide,” Tiland wrote.


“Since video appeals to both sight and sound in a quick burst of stimulation, it captures the attention of the viewer immediately and makes a lasting impression.  The messaging is concise and easy to understand, reaching people of all demographics.”


The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.




Behind the Scenes at a Photo Shoot

It was a typical summer’s day in the South—with heat and humidity that felt like a sauna. But the temperature didn’t hold us back. Today, it was all hands on deck for the SC Heart Gallery photo shoot in Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC.


Staff and volunteers showed up early to set out coolers of bottled water and juice and boxes cookies and chips for the children to enjoy during their time with us. Several volunteer photographers prepared their equipment and scouted various locations throughout the park where they would soon be photographing children. Likewise, our videographer set up under a tent in a quiet area away from the noise of the rest of the group.


One at a time, the children and their caseworkers began to arrive. Some were a little nervous, while others were just excited about the experience. It was obvious that each child had worn their favorite outfit; they wanted to look their best for the potential adoptive families who would be seeing these photographs.


Each child was assigned a photographer and a staff member to ask questions about their likes and preferences; their answers would be used in a profile to accompany their photos. What do they want to be when they grow up? What is their favorite subject in school? Who is their role model?


Before long, we were in full swing. The photographers hardly got a break—as soon as one session finished up, they started off with another child. Each child who was photographed was also interviewed on camera, capturing footage that would be used to create his or her own individual video. By 2pm, everyone was exhausted from the heat but—at the same time—uplifted and encouraged by the children we had met.


In total, 18 children participated in that SC Heart Gallery photo shoot in Greenville. This number is in addition to 94 children who were photographed and 70 who were videotaped by the Heart Gallery from January to June this year. The photos and videos captured during these sessions are gateways to adoption for these children—keys to permanent placement with a family of their own.


For the opportunity to serve children in this way is truly a blessing.


The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.