Adjusting to life as a retiree, Erle had been looking for something meaningful to fill his schedule. “I saw the kids’ posters, so I said, ‘I’ll come volunteer and make good use of my time,’” he explains.
At the time, Erle wasn’t familiar with Make-A-Wish, but he soon learned about the life-changing power of a wish and knew he could use his finance background to support our local team.
Since then, Erle has been coming in three times a week to volunteer in the Wish Assist department, which welcomes nearly 1,300 visiting wish children and their families to Hawaii each year. After so much hard work in the office, he recently witnessed a wish come true firsthand. Erle joined 16-year-old wish kid Harima, who loves SPAM and wished to come to Hawaii to enjoy her favorite food in all its flavors and varieties, for a special SPAM-themed breakfast at Hula Grill Waikiki.
“He was so kind! After the lunch was over, Erle led the way to Food Pantry, so Harima could pick up different kinds of SPAM to take home,” explains Wish Assist Coordinator Holly. “He told stories along the way, and the family was so grateful for Erle’s help.”
In addition to the wish kids like Harima who are touched by Erle’s volunteerism, our staff are continually inspired by his heart. From remembering each staff member’s birthday and sending holiday cards featuring his original poetry to bringing in delicious banana cake to share, Erle is not only a volunteer vital to our mission, but a dear friend to us all.
“Erle often refers to us at Make-A-Wish Hawaii as an extension of his family, and we’re grateful to be able to call him part of our ohana,” says Director of Wish Assist Janelle Sanqui. “He’s thoughtful—we see that day in and day out in his support and in his acts of kindness.” In turn, Erle says “being with the employees” is his among his favorite parts of volunteering.
Erle not only gives selflessly of his time and talent, but he also supports the mission with in-kind gifts for our annual auction, as well as monetary gifts to help local wishes come true each summer.
Humble and demure, Erle’s kindness shines through when asked about the impact of his support: “In this life, most of us get things we don’t deserve. Because we get so much, we should in turn give other people a helping hand.”
And when asked why others should follow his lead, Erle had more words of wisdom about the intrinsic value of giving: “When a person gives back to those less fortunate, they in turn feel so much better about themselves.”
Click here to learn how you can get involved with our mission and make a difference like Erle.
After starting his journey with Make-A-Wish years ago, Erle penned a poem about his experience, which rings just as true today. Click here to read.