Dream Chronicles APRIL 2021, ISSUE 2 awish.org • 401-781-9199
Spring Appeal Dedicated To Wish Families As we enter Spring and all the hope that it brings, both in terms of access to vaccinations and a return to “normal,” we continue to see the toll that this pandemic has taken on our Wish Families. To help alleviate both the financial strain and emotional toll that comes with raising a child suffering a life-threatening illness, our Spring Appeal is dedicated to our Wish Families. As you know, we created the Meghan Duffy Hardship Fund in memory of my daughter to provide emergency resources to our Families. These requests are limited to $1500 per year for any Wish Family that documents a need.
To date, we have provided twelve families with emergency assistance to cover expenses including: automobile related costs, utility bills, clothing, food, and rent. This stop-gap funding allows families to catch up financially and keep their family whole. Our families have said that without this safety net, they could have been evicted, would not have been able to home school their children without internet access, and would not have been able to take their children to doctor’s appointments without a car on the road. I am so proud of this work, as I know that it gives families peace of mind financially while they continue to care for their Wish Kids and navigate pandemic challenges. To continue offering the Hardship Fund to families, we need the generosity of our dedicated supporters. Won’t you join me in committing to ease the financial strain on our families through a donation to the Meghan Duffy Hardship Fund? I promise you that you will be making a tremendous investment in our Wish Families and their children during this difficult time. Thank you so much for your continued support and I look forward to seeing you in person in the coming months. With every good “Wish,” Colleen Duffy Board Chair
It has been an exciting yet challenging time for A Wish Come True as we continue to weather the COVID-19 storm. Winter months were difficult, but finally there is a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccinations happening and businesses slowly opening again. Our partners at Give Kids the World began taking Wish Children and their families in January, giving hope to our Rhode Island and Massachusetts families. We were able to grant a few Wishes locally, which was very exciting, and we continue to expand our Wish of Wellness program for our Wish Families.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, this newsletter is in honor of Wish Moms and Wish Dads that have a child struggling with a life-threatening illness. I watched my Mom and Dad be so strong when my younger brother was diagnosed with Leukemia. They did everything in their power to protect the rest of us as they were going through the ordeal of losing a child. No parent should ever have to go through that. I wish my parents had an opportunity to talk to others for support or find a place to relax. That’s one of my driving forces behind our efforts to create a Wish of Wellness for our Wish Parents. This new initiative offers incredible resources to parents, siblings and the Wish Children well beyond the actual Wish. We hope that you will consider joining us in supporting the expansion of the Wish of Wellness program. These people have been the true rock stars, supporting their families during an incredible crisis and dealing with the worst pandemic in our history. Please enjoy these amazing stories about these resilient and passionate Wish Families. Mary-Kate O’Leary Executive Director
Happy Mother’s & Father’s Day to All!
The Wish of Wellness Program Madison’s Mom & Dad, Kevin & Kim Oulette Tell us how you got involved with A Wish Come True? Our daughter, Madison, was granted a Wish in 2014. We visited Give the Kids the World in Florida. It was an amazing trip and the A Wish Come True staff and volunteers were phenomenal. Have you always stayed connected with AWCT over the years since your Wish? We have received a lot of correspondence throughout the years from A Wish Come True but hadn’t really reconnected with the organization until August of 2020. I received an email inviting me to be part of the first cohort of the Parents Be Well 6-week program. I jumped at the chance to participate in this group. I knew it was something we needed. How can you describe to other parents what it is like to have a child that has a life-threatening illness and what your family’s needs are as a result? It is very hard to describe what it is like to have a child battling a life-threatening illness because our life feels normal to us. Madison was our first child and we just kept moving along with every new diagnosis and need. I think having Madison completely changed the way we “thought” we would be as parents and what we “thought” her life should be. All of the expectations that you have as a parent have to change when your child has a life-threatening illness. Our personal needs really took a back seat. We were always more concerned with what Maddy needed (and then when we had Lily, what she needed too!) We really could not focus on ourselves at all. If we really think about it, what we can always use is support and someone to talk to that understands what we are going through when things get hard. The organization expanded its mission to include providing resources to families as well as granting Wishes. What resources have you experienced? We have both been part of the Be Well Program and cannot say enough good things about it. My husband loved it just as much as I did and the Wish Dads are now great friends. We also have participated in other health and wellness days, have enjoyed special events like trick or treating at the Wish house, and Maddy has even had pictures taken as Merida (from the Disney movie ‘Brave’) because of A Wish Come True. What I know is that other wish granting organizations do the Wish and then they are done. A Wish Come True is now a huge support system for us and other families and that is amazing. The Parents Be Well Program was put in place to allow parents to support each other and to learn how to relax and be calm. How has this program impacted your life at home? This program has been so great for the both of us. We have both realized how important it is to take time for ourselves and we support
each other to make sure we are doing this. Our stress level is better overall and we are really trying to take care of ourselves, which makes us better partners and parents. We truly learned new techniques but the bonding with other Wish Families has been incredible. Is there anything else you would like to see AWCT do? Anything you can do to help us connect with and meet other parents and families would be great. The health and wellness days are amazing and gives us all a chance to meet and share our stories. A support group is key in our unique situation and having those days gives us a chance to meet other Wish Families and truly feel connected and supported in a way you really cannot explain. The kids also want more activities too!!
Community Joins Forces to Help Willow’s Wish Come True A Wish Come True was pleased to help Willow’s Wish come true in partnership with many exceptional, local organizations. Diagnosed in February 2020 with a disease called Systemic Scleroderma, Willow has not lived the life of a normal teenager. The incurable rare disease causes hardening of the skin and connective tissues that can lead to failure of major organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and esophagus. Willow has been receiving weekly treatments at Boston Children’s Hospital where she became eligible to receive a Wish from A Wish Come True. Willow thought long and hard about taking a trip to Florida with her family, but she felt “it would be over too soon,” said her mother, Holli. “She wanted something that would last a lifetime, and she chose to renovate the basement into her own hang out room so her friends could come visit like any 17-year-old girl would want.” A Wish Come True began planning. “It was easy for us since Willow knew exactly what she wanted and where she wanted it,” said Nicole White, Director of Program Services for A Wish Come True. “It was just about coordinating our efforts.” Mary-Kate O’Leary, Executive Director of A Wish Come True, then reached out to CertainTeed, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain North America, and asked if they were interested in helping to grant the Wish. They were excited to participate: “Willow is an inspiring young lady. We are honored to be able to contribute to this renovation and help make her Wish come true,” said Emma O’Donnell, Human Resources Supervisor, CertainTeed.
Additional support was also received from our friends at the Carpenter’s Union Local #330, who generously donated their time to help refinish the basement. “Being able to use our skills to help bring Willow’s Wish to life has been so rewarding, we are proud to lend our time and effort to make this young woman’s life better,” said Scott Legault, Project Lead, L330. Coventry Lumber also donated lumber, and volunteers from CertainTeed helped decorate and apply the finishing touches to help Willow’s Dream come true. Bill Finnegan, CEO of Coventry Lumber and Board Member and his family joined us in the unveiling of her Wish. “It was great for my family to witness such joy on Willow’s face as her Wish was revealed. As a Board Member it brought home to me the importance of A Wish Come True’s mission.” “Really, this is what it is all about,” added O’Leary. “This young girl has an incurable disease and the community wanted to help. No diagnosis is easy to accept but Willow has been remarkable and is so deserving of this special Wish, it was our honor to help.” Willow and her family are also able to receive additional resources from A Wish Come True as they continue to adjust to this difficult diagnosis. Support includes relaxation passes at Raffa Yoga, support groups with other Wish Families, and a supportive ear when someone needs to listen.
VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION We cannot thank our volunteers enough! We have been in desperate need of office support and Sue Harlam stepped in to assist us with updating our client records in our database system.
Sue Harlam, Volunteer Spotlight I first learned about A Wish Come True in September 2020. I was looking for a place to donate my time, and I was immediately intrigued by this organization’s mission to help children and their families. In October, I helped at my first event, which involved providing a safe place for children and their families to trick or treat. While it was fun decorating the Wish House, I knew I had chosen the perfect place when I saw the adorable children with their supportive families. They were all so excited and appreciative. In November and December, I joined in as this amazing organization helped distribute meals to children and families in need and provide holiday gifts. It was then that I felt an overwhelming desire to grant a Wish for a child in need. During a family zoom call, I introduced A Wish Come True to my extended family and friends who live all over the US. I was immediately overwhelmed by their generosity as they too felt a desire to help. I am overjoyed that with their support, we were able to raise enough money to grant some Wishes. I was hoping that I would find a place to help that would be fulfilling and heartwarming. I have found exactly that at A Wish Come True. If you too want to give these families a reason to smile, I urge you to reach out and find out how you can help.
“Willow is an inspiring young lady. We are honored to be able to contribute to this renovation and help make her Wish come true.” Emma O’Donnell, Human Resources Supervisor CertainTeed
1010 Warwick Ave. Warwick, RI 02888
2021 Board of Directors Colleen Duffy, Board Chair Amy Parker, Esq., Board Vice Chair Paula Pais Leach, Treasurer Ron Volpe, Secretary David Belhumeur John Carvalho Jim Cavanaugh Bill Finnegan Frank Ray Cindy Rodrigues Steve Napolillo
WISH KID HIGHLIGHT Breauna’s 18th Birthday – This Wish Kid Wants to Pay it Forward! Breauna is a truly remarkable young lady. She suffers from numerous medical disorders but, according to Breauna, the hardest ones to deal with are Dystonia, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Osteoporosis, and GI Motility Disorder. At A Wish Come True, we were happy to help make her Wish come true.
Elmhurst Boys Golf Tournament Crystal Lake Country Club Supporting A Wish Come True
In addition, to battling numerous medical conditions, Breauna also sadly lost her father in a tragic boating accident. In November 2019, Breauna and her family visited Give Kids the World Village, Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World for a much-needed escape.
How important was that Wish to getaway? It was life-changing, according to Breauna: “The trip was so important to my family. I thought I would never be able to go to those places anytime soon. My family definitely needed it, especially after everything that happened in the few months before the trip. My dad died in a boating accident, my Dystonia kept kicking in, I had a lot of pain issues, and I was just having a very rough time. The trip let me forget all of that and let me be free. I was so happy and excited … I felt so special … Like a VIP. There were times I missed my dad on the trip and that was hard. He was supposed to go, but I was able to bring my best friend as a special exception, which meant the world to me! There were so many good times and great things I did. I got to meet Stich and be in the Lion King show. I will never, ever forget that trip. In a way, it brought me back to life and helped my family heal.“
August 9th - 10th
Breauna has matured into a fine young lady since her Wish was granted years ago. She is still involved with A Wish Come True and we granted her front-row seats at a Providence College hockey game where she was able to meet all the players at a special locker room meet and greet. She said, “It was so awesome! It was another night where I could forget all of my troubles.” She was the first Wish Kid to ask to see a hockey game! Now, as she celebrates her 18th birthday, Breauna has chosen to pay it forward. She is asking friends and family to commemorate her special day with a donation to A Wish Come True. In her own words: “I want to help grant another kid’s Wish and feel like I am a part of the magic. It is so important to support A Wish Come True because every dollar counts and I want to help make someone else feel as good as I did, when they really need it. I think other past Wish kids should think about having fundraisers too because it’s good to give back and it will help keep the Wishes coming.”
To donate, visit us on the web at www.awish.org
Rock-N-Jock Charities Concert and Golf Tournament Potowomut Country Club Supporting A Wish Come True August 16th
Meghan Duffy Foundation Golf Tournament Ledgemont Country Club September 10th - 12th
25th Annual Rock, Rhythm and Blues Concert Holy Ghost Club, Westport October 6th
A Wish Come True Golf and Dinner Celebrating 39 Years Warwick Country Club