Nothing compares to seeing a child’s face light up when they’ve been granted their greatest wish.
That’s the driving force behind Make-A-Wish Australia volunteers Rachel Marshall and Carmen Buxton’s dedication to the cause.
While they love what they do, the pair is desperately calling for help.
They are two of three volunteers granting wishes across the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, and Hunter regions.
As the Newcastle branch manager, Rachel believes volunteering is one of the best things you can do.
“Even when the kids are just telling you their greatest wish in the entire world, that in itself is really magical and special, it doesn’t get old, it never gets old,” she said.
“I got involved with Make-a-Wish when I moved from Canada to Newcastle to help the community.
“Even when you’re feeling stressed or there’s a lot going on, as soon as you talk to one of the kids, that’s what makes it worth it.”
Rachel’s been a volunteer with the organisation since 2019, she says the highlight is bringing “a little magic and joy to children”.
Fellow volunteer and branch secretary and treasurer Carmen has experienced the joy of a wish firsthand.
“I got involved because my grandson had a wish granted and I saw what it did for him,” she said.
“It was something to look forward to when he was miserable with illness.
“It’s worth it when you see the kids light up – it makes such a difference to their lives.
“When they realise they’re going to get their wish, the look on their face is beautiful.”
Carmen and Rachel are encouraging anyone who is interested to apply to become a volunteer.
The pair stressed, no matter how much time you have to spare, the commitment can be as little as an hour a week.
“Don’t be afraid if you don’t feel like you have the time,” Rachel said.
“I work full time and because it is volunteering it’s not the same expectations.
“The commitment is how much or how little you want to give.
“We welcome all kinds of backgrounds it doesn’t matter if you’re working full time, if you’re retired or if you’re a student.
“You can bring your own experience and support a good cause.”
Make-A-Wish Australia CEO Sally Bateman said the charity has set itself an impressive target for 2021.
“Like most charities, Make-A-Wish Australia was hit pretty hard by COVID-19, and as a result we have more than 800 critically ill children counting down the days until their wishes can be granted. Together with our volunteer arm – our Wish Force – we are absolutely committed to making these wishes happen as soon as possible,” she said.
“We’ve set ourselves an ambitious target of granting 100 wishes in 100 days and with the amazing support of volunteers and the community, we hope to achieve this goal by the end of June, bringing smiles to the faces of critically ill children across the country.”
Go to makeawish.org.au for more information about how to become a volunteer.
–Allie Martinelli and Elizabeth Symington