“They taught me everything I know,” said Julie, who has been a Make-A-Wish Arizona volunteer in Tucson for a little more than a year. “I’m still a rookie and even though they know a lot more than me, my fellow volunteers have been so welcoming.”
Julie went on to thank each and every one of her wish granting partners by name.
“Karny Stefan, Sulee Edwards, Karla Escamilla, Rob LaMaster, Linda Toraya, – they are all amazing!” she said. “Wish granters have big hearts, and I am so thankful they not only choose to share them with wish kids, but with me as well. It’s really sweet to be honored this way, but the credit lies with them.”
After attending her initial volunteer training in February of last year, Julie couldn’t wait to start the wish granting process.
“I was at a point in my life where I was starting over and I realized I had connected with this organization on every level,” she said. “Since then, I’ve granted three wishes and now I’m working on several more.”
In her experience so far, Julie says two things have surprised her most about Make-A-Wish Arizona.
“Regardless of their conditions, my wish kids always seem to be so happy,” she said. “Harley has a beautiful smile, Lizzy doesn’t stop dancing, and it was great seeing Elijah have fun with his family at Wish Ball. All of the children are inspiring for different reasons, but I love to see them so full of joy.”
“I am also amazed each time families let us into their lives without question,” Julie continued. “It must be heart wrenching for parents to accept what is happening to their child and face the condition that qualifies them for a wish, but they trust us - total strangers - to be a part of their lives.”
In hopes of getting more out of her experience, Julie also has started learning Spanish in her spare time.
“Tucson is a bilingual city and I thought Spanish would help me with everything in life, including wish granting,” she said. “I’m working on a Spanish-speaking wish right now and the child, Manuel, is also helping me with my Spanish!”
For Julie, it’s all about the opportunity to help as many people as she can.
“It’s hard to find the words for how much all of this means to me, it makes me cry,” she said. “I love to volunteer and making wishes come true really makes a difference to these kids. It’s such a great thing to do.”
My Wish: In Barcelona, they have this festival where you give a book to someone and you get a rose in return. Someday, I hope to get one of my books published and be able to take part in this tradition.