I started volunteering for Make-A-Wish in high school. It started because I had to do 40 hours of volunteer work to graduate, so I randomly picked Make-A-Wish out of the phonebook because I had heard of them and thought it sounded like a special thing. I started volunteering in the office part-time, once or twice a week and joining into special events outside of that. I was lucky to get an office job of putting some collages together for a few children's wishes. I loved seeing the happy pictures from one of the best days of their lives, just from the pictures provided you could see how special the wish was to each child. I got to know many of the ladies in the office, all of whom were truly wonderful and appreciative people. Their dedication and love for the organization made me want to get more involved.
After graduating high school I was no longer able to volunteer in the office, but I made sure to do every possible special event that came my way. I enjoyed working with all the wonderful people from Make-A-Wish as well as the other volunteers, but most of all I would love meeting the wish kids and hearing all about their wishes and the real impact it had on them.
Eventually Make-A-Wish asked me if I would have any interest in representing them at an event where I would have to give a speech and accept a cheque from an organization that supported them. I jumped at the opportunity to help out further. This has become something I do a few times a year now.
In 2009, Make-A-Wish nominated me for a volunteer service award, and I received a youth award from the province.
About 7-8 years ago, Make-A-Wish asked me if I would be interested in becoming a Wish Companion, so I would accompany a Wish Granter on a meeting with a Wish Child and be there to support and find out the child's one true wish. I was so excited, this had been something I had wanted to participate in for a long time! My first meeting with a Wish child I came in mid-wish, and got to start off by telling her she was going to Hawaii with her family. Of course I was hooked after the excitement of that meeting. I now currently work with 2 different Wish Granters as their companions, and last year I took the Wish Granter training myself and just completed my first Wish as the lead and have already started my second.
There is nothing that could replace the Wish Granting in my life, I love it. I love meeting the families and trying to make everything special and tailored to each child. I love doing a special reveal for each child to tell them they are getting their most treasured wish, and even though it is bitter sweet, the visit I love most of all, is the final meeting with each child and family where I get to hear all about their trip, see pictures and all the souvenirs, shirts, and what-nots they brought back with them. That is the time you know how important Make-A-Wish and what you have helped to do really is.
In 2014, I was the recipient of a special award through Make-A-Wish SWO. Their volunteer of the year. Then in 2017, they nominated me for an Ivey award called "The Unsung Heroes Award", only one person in all of SWO wins each year, and it wasn't me, but it was quite the honor to think that Make-A-Wish felt I deserved a nomination.
On the weekend that just passed I had my final meeting with my first Wish Child - who went to Paris with her family. She just turned 18, 2 weeks ago, she is an amazing artist and will start the UWO Arts Program in the fall. As soon as my Wish Companion and I got there you could feel how excited she and her family were to tell us all about her Wish trip. They had their phones ready to show us all the pictures, souvenirs out on the table, and the special pictures you get from rides at Disney. They were locked and loaded with stories from the trip. Her mom talked about how special it was to see the smile on her daughter’s face the whole time they were there and how many deep down belly laughs their family shared. Her mom said it hadn't been like that since before her daughter got sick. They all talked about what a special experience it was for their family that they never could have done without Make-A-Wish and how it made them forget about everything that had happened for a while.
Last year Make-A-Wish started a new group called the YPAC - Young Professional's Advisory Council - and asked me to be a member. Of course I happily joined up, I am excited to see where this new group will go and what we can accomplish.
I will be participating in the Rope for Hope on June 14th (I will rappel down the London City Centre building), and I have managed to raise $3160 so far.
It has been more than 15 years with Make-A-Wish for me now, I cannot see ever giving it up and I hope that more and more opportunities come my way to help and participate with such a wonderful charity.
Thank you for your time reading my submission and I hope I portrayed a bit of what Make-A-Wish has meant to me.
Learn more about Make-A-Wish Southwestern Ontario