Oringinally Published by DelmarvaNow.com
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic is looking for volunteers to help make the dreams of ill children come true.
The nonprofit works with families in Kent, Sussex, Wicomico, Somerset and Worcester counties. Wish-granting volunteers are the face of the foundation — the eyes and ears that gather information about the child, said Janice Pliner, the organization’s director of volunteer services and training.
The process begins with an initial interview, and volunteers work in teams of two to make the child’s wish come true. During the process, volunteers keep in touch with the child and their family to keep them excited about that wish, Pliner said.
“The whole experience … can really help kids get through a medical treatment and help them comply with their medical routine,” she said. “Just knowing a wish is coming true can be amazing medicine for children. It’s the volunteers who are making the magic happen.”
Volunteers must be 21 years of age, clear a background check, and participate in a one-day training session. Bilingual volunteers are also needed, Pliner said.
In fiscal year 2011, 51 wishes were granted in Delaware and Cecil, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties in Maryland. Children can ask to go somewhere, be something, have something or meet someone. One of the most popular wishes is to go to Disney World, Pliner said.
Christina Weaver has been a wish-granting volunteer for more than two years and has been part of about 10 wishes. She said the experience has been really gratifying.
One little boy, who Weaver has worked with for about 11 months, will have his wish fulfilled in February at the Daytona 500; another youngster who has difficulty with movement can’t wait for summer when she can go swimming with dolphins; and another boy wants to be an engineer and design smartphone applications.
“I’m a retired nurse. I have two healthy children and four healthy granddaughters . Each time I go visit with a Make-A-Wish family it just reinforces how lucky we are,” Weaver said. “The mission of Make-A-Wish is to bring hope strength and joy into the life of a child who has a life-threatening condition. I can’t express how great it is to have a very little part in that.”
Those who volunteer can work in the office, help to organize special events or write stories about the wishes once they are granted. In addition, there are several fundraising opportunities this year, including a golf tournament in May and the annual triathlon at Sea Colony in September, she said.
Wish-granting volunteers have the opportunity to be part of the process from beginning to end, which many participants find to be very special, Pliner said.
“People will find volunteering for Make-A-Wish Foundation a kind of life-affirming experience,” she said.