by Colleen Digney
May 17, 2019
The Make-a-Wish Foundation says it takes a village to fulfill the dreams of children who need it most. At the moment they’re on a volunteer drive so that people like Brittany Morales from the Bronx can be a Make-a-Wish child at the age of 16 whose dreams came true and then later as an adult become a Make-a-Wish volunteer herself.
At age 13 Morales was diagnosed with Lupus and received a wish: to have a super sweet 16 party. She thought there was no better way to celebrate life than with a big party. Now the 28-year-old volunteers to spread that same feeling of hope and pure happiness she experienced after her wish was granted.
“Being a child and dealing with these horrible illnesses, it is very tough,” explained Morales. “It takes a toll on our mental state growing up. But having this wish gave me something to look forward to, something to be excited about,” she said.
When Make-a-Wish kids have a dream to either meet someone, go somewhere, receive something or give something, it’s the volunteers who work to turn that dream into a reality. But once the wish is granted, Make-a-Wish Bronx Community Council Board Member Bharati S. Kemraj, says it’s difficult to differentiate who receives more from the experience: the child or the volunteer.
“We don’t have magical powers, but here we are turning dreams into a reality,” said Kemraj. “I see it as being a fairy godmother.”
Morales now feels grateful to have granted six wishes herself. Not only has she helped children go to Disney and experience a vacation for the first time, but she also spreads encouragement with each wish she grants. She relates to the children by talking to them about her own illness to show them they’re not alone in their journey.
While Make-a-Wish Metro New York grants wishes to children with critical illnesses, many kids in the Bronx wait up to nine months for their wishes to be granted due to the lack of volunteers.
So the Bronx Community Council seeks volunteers for Make-a-Wish Metro New York, one of the few positions where changing lives is just another day on the job. Community leaders in the Bronx encourage everyone to consider being a volunteer for Make-a-Wish, as children’s wishes cannot be granted without their help.
“We all have seen how Make-A-Wish has a direct impact on the kids we serve, but the mission impacts the community just as much,” said Erica Sandoval, Director of Make-A-Wish Metro New York. “It continues with our Bronx Community Council helping us grant wishes to our Bronx kids. Together we create life-changing wishes.”