Reflection #2 – Make-A-Wish Foundation

Read below to find out more about student Amy Tryon’s experience as an intern at the Make-A-Wish foundation!

My Job 

As an intern at the Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana Chapter, I work with both development and wish granting.  For the development department, I have been asked to research large companies to add to our database of potential sponsors, develop promotions for Facebook, compose letters to television and radio stations, and many other duties.  In the wish department, I have worked on the composition of wish packets, which includes toys for the wish kids and an itinerary of their travel.  I have also made contact with the children’s doctors to make sure the proper documentation has been completed.  I perform clerical duties such as answering phone calls and emails.  I am looking forward to working more closely with wish parents in the future.  As my supervisor says, “You get to learn a lot about family psychology when you talk to the wish parents”.  I am also hoping to have the opportunity to shadow donor meetings and to learn grant-writing techniques.

Background of Make-A-Wish

Make-A-Wish was inspired by the wish of one young boy.  Christopher James Greicius had always dreamed of becoming a police officer.  In 1980, Christopher was 7 years old and was being treated for Leukemia.  U.S. Customs Officer Tommy Austin had befriended Christopher and his mother.  When Christopher’s condition worsened, Austin made arrangements to take Chris on a city tour in a department helicopter.  On April 29, 1980 Chris went on the helicopter ride and was then sworn in as the first honorary Department of Public Safety patrolman in state history.  Chris was also presented with a custom-tailored DPS uniform.  When Christopher passed away later that spring, those who were involved in this experience worked to start a foundation in his memory.  They saw how happy Chris was when his dream came true and hoped that they could take some of the pain of illness away from other children by giving them the opportunity to have their dreams come true as well.

Mission and Goals 

Make-A-Wish works to grant the wishes of children with life threatening medical conditions.  The foundation hopes to take some of the pain of illness away for the child and his or her family and replace it with joy and hope.  The goal is to give the family time together away from medical treatments and bills. Over half of wish kids have Disney related wishes such as a trip to Disney World, or going on a Disney cruise. Other wishes include shopping sprees, meeting Drew Brees, a DJ station, or a trip to Hawaii.  Daynin (pictured below) even wished for a pony!

The foundation also works to keep overhead costs low.  The 2011 audit found that 92 cents of every dollar donated to Make-A-Wish was used or set aside for wish granting purposes.

Structure

Make-A-Wish has 62 chapters throughout the United States and its territories as well as many international affiliates.  The Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana chapter covers all parishes of Louisiana and 47 counties in the Texas Gulf Coast area.  I work in the office in Metairie, which has two permanent staff members.  Jackie Heroman is the Development Coordinator and is in charge of fundraising and marketing for the chapter.  Melissa Chatelain is the Wish Coordinator, meaning that she is responsible for all the aspects of wish granting, including making travel arrangements and speaking with wish kid’s families and doctors.  The foundation has a board of 33 members that includes 27 directors and 6 advisors.  Volunteers also assist with many responsibilities of the chapter.

Problems Make-A-Wish Addresses

Make-A-Wish addresses the problems that families of children with life threatening illnesses have to deal with throughout their child’s sickness.  Make-A-Wish strives to give the families an opportunity to forget that their child is sick for a short period of time by bringing joy to the life of the child.  The organization works to make sure children receive the wish that would truly make them happy and give them hope.  Make-A-Wish wants to the child to have a once of a lifetime experience to always remember.

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