Make-A-Wish WNY seeks more volunteers

Area residents who may be interested in using their free time to make a difference may want to consider partnering with Make-A-Wish Western New York.

The regional nonprofit foundation is calling for volunteers in the Southern Tier counties to assist with its mission to fulfill the wishes of children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition.

Make-A-Wish Western New York grants an average of 150 wishes in its 17-county territory each year, and 25 percent of those wishes take place in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. However, only 5 percent of its approximately 250-member volunteer base is from the tri-county region, making the many wish requests stemming from the area difficult to satisfy.

“We are in need of caring and compassionate individuals who would like to make dreams come true for children in need of hope, strength and joy,” said Kate McGowan, manager of media relations and marketing. “Volunteers are the backbone of our organization, and an integral part of accomplishing our mission and vision of serving all medically eligible children in the Western New York region.”

In order to swell its ranks of volunteers, the foundation will be offering two opportunities for prospective volunteers via online information sessions on Tuesday, Aug. 19, and Wednesday, Sept. 3. For details on these sessions, contact Lisa Johnson, volunteer resources manager, at 810-9474 (810-WISH) or ljohnson@wny.wish.org.

Following the information sessions, a New Volunteer Orientation will be held Friday, Sept. 19, in Jamestown from 5:30-7:30 p.m. According to McGowan, prospective volunteers can learn much from the multi-faceted orientation program.

“The new Volunteer Orientation is a two-hour training program which provides an introduction to the Make-A-Wish mission, and wide-scale impact,” she said.

“There are many various roles in the Make-A-Wish volunteer network, and the (orientation) provides an overview of each role,” McGowan continued. “Those roles include wish granting, wish story writing, medical outreach, fundraising, and events and our speakers’ bureau. Everyone who completes the (orientation) will be trained as a speaker, and will be able to assist at events; but those who wish to move on to other roles will need to complete additional trainings.”

All interested individuals must complete an application prior to receiving the orientation training. For information on the location of the orientation, as well as to receive a volunteer application, contact Johnson.

“Our volunteers have a profound impact on our mission in each of the roles they fulfill,” Johnson said. “Whether serving as a wish granter, speaker, supporting medical outreach, or contributing to an event, volunteers have an opportunity to make our world better by making a lasting impression on the lives of so many.”

Kim Butler, a Jamestown resident and Make-A-Wish volunteer, chose to become a volunteer after her son received a wish in 2009. Since then, she has had several opportunities to pay it forward as a wish granter for the foundation that made such a profound impact on her family.

“My work as a wish granter has afforded me the opportunity to meet wonderful children and their families, as well as assist in the coordination of wishes that have brought pure joy to the recipients,” Butler said. “I have found it to be a very rewarding experience.”

For more information on Make-A-Wish Western New York, call 810-9474, or visit www.wny.wish.org.

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