Last night I went to a local event in Geneva for the charity “Make A Wish” with CEO, Jon Stettner, and several volunteers of the organization.
Make A Wish grants wishes to children with life threatening medical conditions. It all began with a 7 year old boy with leukemia who more than anything wanted to be a police officer. The community where he lived helped to grant his wish… and according to his mother, he declared that it “was the happiest day of my life.” To witness her boy so happy inspired her to start the charity together with a couple of other mothers.
Today, and 30+ years later, Make A Wish has granted 350,000 wishes in 50 countries around the world. The organization has 35,000 volunteers, which is one of the reasons the charity is rated amongst the top 1% charities in the US, since 87% of every dollar donated goes to materialize wishes (the rest to administration). The industry average is much lower, and I think that most of us who donate money like to see our money go directly to the cause.
In yesterday gathering, I learned of beautiful stories and how healing it was for the children (and their families) to receive the gift of having their highest wish come true. Their wishes ranges from meeting with a person they admire, to going to Disney Land, swimming with Dolphins etc. These children get a boost of energy and hope, which in many instances also enhances the child’s healing and recovery process. It also helps to bond families that often are under tremendous amount of stress, fear and sadness.
A group of my friends living in Honolulu, Hawaii has supported Make A Wish for the past 29 years by organizing a large fundraising party every April. I joined their very first event in Honolulu in 1986, and every year while I was living there until 1990. It was therefore extra fun to connect with people working for this wonderful foundation.
I have engaged and supported; ‘Hand in Hand’, another charity, which creates jobs in developing countries by supporting women to start a business. Plus, “Mary’s Venner” – a Norwegian charity that I have supported for the past 15 years and where 100% of the money goes to the education of children in various Asian countries.
When we find a charity with a mission we believe in, it can add great meaning to our lives, and a sense of gratitude that we can make a difference. Doing something for others that also wakes us up to how fortunate we are and that reminds us that we do not have struggle like many people and families do, can be a huge investment to ourselves and our families.
Giving money is great; investing our time to touch the lives of others, enriches us most likely even more.