Volunteers needed to help make wishes come true

Published 12:00pm 8 June 2023

Volunteers needed to help make wishes come true
Words by Ashleigh Howarth
Above: Moreton Bay Make-A-Wish branch President Courtney Bourke with fellow volunteers John Rae and Bec Greeshaw. 

Members of the Moreton Bay Make-A-Wish branch are calling on the community to help them fulfil the wishes of sick children.

The branch is seeking up to 20 new volunteers, after losing people due the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreton Bay Make-A-Wish President Courtney Bourke says, without volunteers, children are missing out on having their wishes granted.

“We currently have less than 10 active volunteers in our group, but ideally we would like to have at least 30 people in the branch who can give back to the community,” Courtney says.

“We cover a big area – basically the whole Moreton Bay Council area stretching just north of Bracken Ridge all the way up to Bribie Island and out into the hinterland.

“It’s not uncommon for us to have around 20 wishes at any given time from sick kids across this region, and to be able to fulfil them all, we desperately need more people who can help us.”

Courtney says many of the wishes requested by children include owning a puppy, computer equipment, family holidays, snow trips, birthday parties and shopping sprees.

Above: Bec Greeshaw has been volunteering with Make-A-Wish for 15 years. 

A rewarding experience

Bec Greeshaw, who has been volunteering with Make-A-Wish for 15 years, says bringing a smile to a child’s face is “one of the best feelings in the world”.

“When you see a child smile for the first time in a long time, it’s amazing,” Bec says.

“A lot of people would have seen the extravagant wishes broadcast on television, but for me personally, I love the simpler wishes.

“When you have a child and their family smiling, laughing and enjoying themselves, you know it’s all worth it.

“We never do the same thing twice because no two wishes are ever the same.”

Having brought joy to hundreds of children in her time as a volunteer, Bec says there are two wishes that stand out in her mind.

“I had a little girl whose wish was to have a Minnie Mouse birthday party,” Bec says.

“Having a simple birthday party meant the world to her so we had someone dress up as Minnie Mouse, had a cake, games, party bags and party food, all of which were donated.

“She came to the party dressed in her Minnie Mouse dress and at first, she was a little shy, but then she was in her element.

“Sadly, she passed away two years ago. When I found out, I messaged her mum who said “thank you for making my daughter smile at the end of her life”.

The second wish was what’s known as an urgent wish.

“When an urgent wish comes through, that means you might only have hours, days or a week tops to pull something together,” Bec explains.

“I got a call about a boy whose wish was to go to the snow.

“They told me he only had days to live, and since he didn’t have permission to leave hospice care, we made the snow come to the top of Hummingbird House.

“We also brought in huskies, had an ice sculpture, a local fire truck, snow cones and pizzas.

“We also organised a photographer to come and capture the day for his parents to keep, and all his friends were there.

“It was such a special day because he was happy, his parents were happy, and his grandmother was happy.

“Sadly, he passed away two days after his wish.

"A lot of people look at Make-A-Wish and think it is the last wish for a child, but that is not always the case. 

“I often have people say to me “how do I do it” and I respond, “how can I not”.

Volunteers needed to help make wishes come true
Above: Moreton Bay Make-A-Wish branch President Courtney Bourke and John Rae, who has been volunteering for more than two decades. 

Apply to become a volunteer

At Make-A-Wish, many people who register to volunteer will become branch volunteers, like Courtney, Bec and John Rae, who has been volunteering for 23 years.

Branch volunteers get together monthly to plan local fundraising campaigns and coordinate wishes for local families.

The organisation asks volunteers to commit for a maximum of 12 months.

Anyone over the age of 18 can volunteer, with all training provided. All new volunteers participate in local orientation activities, with additional online training and mentoring for branch volunteers to help you get ‘wish-ready’.

For John, his decision to join Make-A-Wish came from a workout video.

“Remember videos,” John says, laughing.

“The gym I went to had an exercise tape they were giving away called Body of Work. In the video, Bill Phillips said if you liked his video, don’t give money to him, but donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“That video made me want to join, so I did. I’ve been with Make-A-Wish now for 23 years and I love it.”

If you would like to volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Moreton Bay Branch, of visit the Make-A-Wish volunteer page on their website.

About Make-A-Wish Australia

Make-A-Wish Australia was founded in 1985 by two volunteers from Ballarat.

Since then, Make-A-Wish Australia has been creating life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses, with more than 10,000 wishes granted for children all over the country.

Their mission is to grant the wish of every eligible child, with each wish designed to complement a child’s medical treatment, and working to calm, distract and inspire them at a time they need it most.

Each child’s wish journey is different, and carefully delivered and planned to create a positive and lasting impact in their life.

Once their wish has been achieved, it helps the child learn that despite their situation, anything is possible.

The not-for-profit organisation receives no government funding and relies on the generosity of people to help fulfil wishes.

You can help bring some magic to the life of a sick child by registering to become a volunteer, or donating what you can.

To find out more about Make-A-Wish Australia, visit their website.

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