There are sick children with wishes and there’s an organization that makes them come true. But doing so requires wish granter volunteers to connect the two parties. And there’s a significant need for those volunteers locally.

On May 16, Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia will host its first fully virtual training, which will specifically target wish granters in the Northern Neck. 

The organization grants wishes for children between  2 1/2 and 18 years old who were diagnosed with a critical medical condition.

Wish granter volunteers are critical to the process, said Caroline Browell marketing and communication manager for Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia. 

“Our office is headquartered in Richmond. So, we rely heavily on volunteers in the communities to meet with wish families, get to know those wish families and help us understand what the child’s wish is. Then, they work with us and the family throughout the wish process,” she explained.

Each wish is as unique as each child but they commonly fall into five categories. There are wishes to go somewhere, wishes to have something, wishes to meet someone, wishes to be something, such as a member of the SWAT Team, and there are wishes to give.

For example, one child wanted to give a weight room to his high school, Browell said.

Volunteers come from all backgrounds and age groups. The most important thing is for each volunteer to be passionate about helping the organization grant the best possible wish experience. Other than that, Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia only asks for an individual’s time and effort. The organization completely covers all costs, and currently, all the interaction between parties is done virtually due to the coronavirus.

Being a wish granter is a long-term commitment. The average wish turnaround time is averaging just over one year. During that time, volunteers are expected to maintain regular contact with the child, trying to bring hope and joy. Browell said that may include things like sending postcards, making check-up calls and helping to plan shopping trips or a wish celebration, which is often held before a child’s wish is granted. 

Most wish granters can expect to commit about two to four hours each month. “It really is such a rewarding way to make an impact in the local community for a local child and family,” and it really makes a difference, Browell explained.

“We hear from families that the wish process gives their child the strength they need to continue to fight. Wishes are really life changing experiences for the child and their family.” 

That’s why in addition to the May 16 training for the Northern Neck, Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia also recently decided to host another training on May 20 that will include new volunteers from various regions.

Since this is organization’s first foray into virtual training, it’s unknown exactly how long the session will be. In-person, training is generally six to seven hours. 

Anyone wanting to participate must complete background check before training. To do so contact, Jenna Peterson at jpeterson@va.wish.org or (804) 571-1275.

Recommended for you