Behind-the-scenes planning helps children's wishes become reality.
Elizabeth Van Huffel
What do you do? I am a wish coordinator for Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. Once a child has been referred and deemed eligible for a wish by their physician, my role is to do the behind-the-scenes planning to ensure the wish comes true. From meeting a favorite athlete or celebrity chef to visiting Walt Disney World Resort or having a princess ball, I do the work to make their wish reality. It’s the best job ever!
How did you get started in that job? I first became involved with Make-A-Wish while volunteering at Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee, Fla., while in college. Give Kids The World Village hosts wish families for a week-long, cost-free vacation. It was there that I had the opportunity to experience firsthand just how impactful a wish can be. It was at that point I knew I had to be involved with the organization in some capacity. Originally from the Midwest, I began interning at the Make-A-Wish office in Cleveland, Ohio, the summer after graduation. That internship led me to work for the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana chapter and the Illinois chapter prior to moving to Seattle last year.
What’s a typical day like? One of the things that I love about my job is that each day is different. I work on roughly 55 wishes a year and each of those wishes is unique. I interact with our wonderful volunteers, donors and the Western Washington community to ensure these ever-deserving children receive high quality wishes. I do quite a bit of travel planning, party planning, in-kind donation requests and more.
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What surprises people about your work? I think most people are surprised to learn that there are currently 1 in 4 children in our territory going without a wish. This might be because their family doesn’t realize they qualify for a wish or simply because we’re lacking the resources it takes to reach every eligible child with a life-threatening medical condition.
What’s the best part of the job? The best part of my job is knowing that I am helping to bring a bit of happiness and hope back into our wish children’s lives. I truly believe that a wish can positively influence a child’s overall health and well-being. It provides them with hope, strength and joy in the midst of such hardship. A wish gives the child control again, and that is truly invaluable.
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