Make-A-Wish Southwestern Ontario

From the moment I sat in on a Make-A-Wish Volunteer meeting at the satellite office about 12 years ago, I knew that I wanted to commit my volunteer hours to this organization - it not only was going to help children, but also the future of children and their families. I started out as a Wish Companion within the organization and I have to say, my first visit to a Wish Child was very over-whelming and emotional - I am not going to sugar-coat the experience as the parent was suddenly faced with signing forms indicating that her child was terminal - she had never faced this fact. Watching the wish child console her mother, who was crying, telling her that it was going to be ok, and that this is what had to be done in order to move forward with granting a wish opened my eyes to how these remarkable children, faced with such adversity, move forward in their lives and want to live a "normal" life with their illness. I saw such strength and compassion that night and really enjoyed meeting this special family, and then thought how lucky I was that I had been given children who were healthy. This is what keeps me humble. Moving forward in the years as a Wish Companion really gets you "ready" to take on a Wish Grantor role. I decided it was time to apply for this role, to take the lead now with wish granting. It is super exciting when you receive your first Make-A-Wish Granting Box from the London chapter, reading all about the Wish Child and their family, then coordinating your first visit to meet. Along the way, you are coordinating paperwork for the Wish Family and the Wish Child's wishes. The best is getting the wish all set up and then contacting the parents to decide on a Wish Reveal for their child. There are a lot of happy tears during the reveal and you can't help but have a continuous "smile" on your face. You start out as strangers and by the final visit you are friends for life! It is a great feeling! But, it has been the children and their families that have been the most endearing and infectious. Yes, we have lost some of our wish kids, but to know that you were part of their short life and helped to make a difference stays with you for life. I am the blessed one for knowing them. It has been a great experience so far and I look forward to more years with the Make-A-Wish organization.

- Joanne

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