Make-A-Wish® Hawaii has launched a campaign to recruit more wish granting volunteers statewide after assessing a shortage of volunteers needed to help grant incoming wishes.
“Five years ago, our biggest challenge was raising awareness of our statewide reach,” said Make-A-Wish Hawaii President and CEO Siana Austin Hunt. “Now that people know we are here for Hawaii keiki and families, our biggest challenge is finding enough resources and helping hands to manage incoming children.”
As of January 2015, Make-A-Wish Hawaii has 136 volunteer wish granters statewide, 120 of which are on Oahu. The organization needs 273 wish granters statewide, with the greatest area of new recruits needed on Neighbor Islands.
“We need more than 45 new wish granters on our Neighbor Islands, and we also need about 100 more wish granters on Oahu alone,” Hunt said of the campaign’s long-term goal. “Fortunately we are not in a position where we are turning away keiki, but it is taking longer to see a wish come true in some areas of our state because of the heavy caseload on our current volunteers. We are being proactive.”
The Make-A-Wish Hawaii staff handle the finer details of wish planning, including building itineraries and budgets, and planning family activities, travel and hotel accommodations. They also do considerable creative thinking to make each child’s wish unique and memorable.
However, the organization relies upon volunteers to meet with eligible wish kids to determine, conceptualize and help plan each child’s unique wish experience. The wish granter is a specialized role on the front lines, and it requires one additional training course beyond the initial Volunteer Orientation.
“Our wish granters are the people who meet with our wish families one-on-one and help wish kids tap into their greatest passions and dreams,” said Volunteer Outreach Coordinator Kari Bogner. “We call these our ‘Wish Discovery Meetings,’ and it is just the beginning of the magical journey that is a wish.”
After the child has expressed their one true wish, the wish granter then collaborates with the Make-A-Wish Hawaii Program team, which works full-time to coordinate each wish.
“We have full-time wish coordinators who handle the actual wish planning,” Bogner explained. “The volunteer wish granter’s role is to stay in touch with the family and create fun ways to keep the wish kid engaged.”
The recruitment campaign is twofold – increase awareness on the role of a wish granter and make training more accessible for applicants.
To fulfill these goals, Make-A-Wish Hawaii is seeking grant funding to cover the costs of trips to Neighbor Islands, where staff can do more in-person training and relationship building in these communities. Complementary to that, the nonprofit is also offering webinar trainings for applicants who can’t attend the monthly in-person trainings currently available on Oahu.
The long-term goal is to create Regional Councils on Neighbor Islands.
“In addition to volunteers, we are looking for community leaders on our Neighbor Islands who are passionate about helping local keiki in their own neighborhoods,” said Hunt. “These councils would serve as extensions of our Oahu headquarters allowing us to better operate as the statewide organization that we are.”
For more information on volunteering with Make-A-Wish Hawaii, go here.
For those interested in starting a Regional Council, contact Siana Austin Hunt at email@example.com.