HdL's ESOP committee toured the Make-A-Wish Orange County Wish House.
HdL Learns the Power of a Wish
One month ago, our altruistic leader, Andy Nickerson, joined the Make-A-Wish (Orange County and Inland Empire Chapter) Foundation as a Community & Individual Engagement Committee Member. Recognizing that HdL’s core values aligned (particularly to give generously) with the organization’s, he immediately introduced HdL’s ESOP Committee and a tour of the OC Wish House was scheduled.
It was apparent from our first step inside the bright blue lobby that Make-A-Wish doesn’t do anything halfway. Rather than a receptionist, we were greeted by the over-joyful, energetic Chief Development Officer, Marc Sawyer, who announced he would be our tour guide. He took our temperatures and explained that their team frequently interacts with immuno-compromised kiddos and wish families, so a Covid-free environment is of the utmost importance. We were still in the lobby when the first of many stories and tears started flowing.
The moment Marc started speaking, it was crystal clear he was destined to work in the wish-giving industry. As he relived the first wish he witnessed, it was as if he was emanating Tinkerbell’s pixie dust and spreading awe around the room. This story, this wish – one he had shared a hundred times before – unfolded before our eyes. A friend of Marc’s was granted a wish to meet Faith Hill. Faith refused a five-minute meet-and-greet. She refused limo service. She even refused a seat in her audience. Instead, she sent her husband, the one and only Tim McGraw and his pick-up truck, to escort the lucky wish maker from the airport to her concert. She brought the young fan backstage, got down on her knees, asked what her favorite song was, and sang every note with her. So much more than a mere handshake and picture, Faith gifted this family a moment of connection and positive, uplifting energy that would impact them for a lifetime. “That is the kind of magic that Make-A-Wish aims to bring every child,” said Marc. Cue the waterworks.
Left to right: Marc Sawyer, Tree Roque, Laura Centeno, Angela Cruz, Jennifer Pierce, Jennifer Kovach, Fienna Cheng, Virginia Starr
Before moving on with the tour, Marc said “The most important thing I will tell you today is this: Make-A-Wish is not in the business of assisting terminal children. The majority of kids that come to us do have a serious diagnosis but go on living a long, happy life. We are in the business of using a wish as an important part of the medical treatment and healing process to instill strength, hope and transformation.”
We moved into the Wish Lounge. Painted dandelions adorned the walls and dispersed into wooden letters that spell out “I Wish…” The letters had been decoupaged with the elated faces of former wish makers. This, Marc said, was where the real magic happened. Colorful and cozy, the room housed a train table, art easel, books (mostly about wishes!), and other toys – a.k.a. resources – to explore a child’s imagination. This is where passionate “Wish Granters” play with a child and discuss the child’s favorite color, toy, food, sport, etc. to get all the pieces of the puzzle and draw out his/her one true wish.
A plaque ceremoniously naming the room the “Disney Wish Lounge” hung in the center of the room. It was a gift from Disney as they have their own Wish Lounge where wish kids can take a break from their hectic day in the park. 50% of all wishes are requests to visit the happiest place on Earth, so it came as no surprise that the two organizations work closely together. Marc informed us that the pandemic had drastically decreased the amount of wishes they could grant each year. Travel and capacity restrictions forced them to table all destination wishes and think outside of the box. Playgrounds, gardens, room renovations and shopping sprees became much more popular. Their Wish Coordinators go so far as to research prices, shop online to get the most for every dollar and hand wrap each present. He shared more stories about the good deeds done by John Cena and The Rock, two of their biggest celebrity requests. He told us about children that wanted to be a firefighter or a chef or a “cool kid.” Then he told us about children that gave their wishes away and we all reached for the tissue box.
The rest of the tour proceeded in this fashion. Every room was another pop of color, and their Mission, Vision and Values were proudly displayed in each. Murals and photo books lined the walls and counters. Everywhere you looked it was evident that this wasn’t just an office building, but a testimony to the miracles they made happen every day.
Words cannot adequately express what we learned on this tour. We left inspired and yearning WISHING to do more! Marc informed us that we can help grant wishes by sponsoring a wish or volunteering on-site. Be prepared to see Team HdL wrapping presents and tying bows very soon! HdL employees have also been donating to Make-A-Wish through our Co.tribute platform and have raised over $6,000!
Ways to Support
Did you know you can support a wish with air miles, car donations, hotel points, in kind services (like video shoots, dry wall installers, gardeners, electricians, etc.)? Click HERE to get involved today!
Courtesy of Make-A-Wish "Wish Impact Study"
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