Andrea Bell is no exception. A St. Louis native, 31-year-old Andrea moved to Chicago to participate in AmeriCorps – a network of national service programs dedicated to improving lives and fostering civic engagment – at Northwestern, and decided to stay. She was introduced to Make-A-Wish when her 4-year-old nephew, Cameron, invited her to attend his wish to visit Walt Disney World through Make-A-Wish Missouri in 2012. After that impactful experience, Andrea said she knew she wanted to remain involved.
“It was just a really nice experience, and I wanted to continue to be a part of that for other families,” Andrea said.
During her time as a Make-A-Wish volunteer, Andrea has helped the organization in many ways. She’s been a representative for the organization at fundraisers, volunteered at World Wish Day events, helped out at Wish Ball for two years and – her favorite part of the job – created several wishes for local children with critical illnesses.
“I have personal experience with wish granting through my nephew. He still talks about his wish now, even though it was five years ago,” Andrea said. “I’ve seen how much of an impactful experience it can be, and that keeps me motivated to keep helping out.”
Andrea said the most memorable wish she’s granted involved helping a wish child go to the World Cup. She said she loved seeing how happy he got when he was told his wish would be granted.
“He was so excited, obviously a huge soccer fan,” Andrea said. “The whole family loved the experience, and I loved being able to be the one to tell him he’d get to go.”
Besides fulfilling many of the traditional volunteer roles at Make-A-Wish, Andrea has helped try to expand the organization’s volunteer base in bold ways. Earlier this year, she was a part of setting up a meeting of the Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League
highlighting the need for more volunteers from Chicago’s South and West Sides. She said she was motivated to do so because of the need she was seeing for wish granters for children from those areas.
“It’s a very diverse organization that’s representative of the kids who need wish granters,” Andrea said. “I think it’s a good partnership. It’s another opportunity to expand Make-A-Wish’s reach. After the presentation, we had several people sign up to become volunteers, and we’re in the next steps of getting them ready now.”
Andrea has put lots of hard work and sacrificed a lot of her time for Make-A-Wish during the five years she’s been a volunteer. She said there are many reasons she’s stayed this long, but the most important is the organization’s mission.
“Having a wish granted helps these kids just be kids for a while,” Andrea said. “It puts a smile on their face, and it incorporates the whole family. I keep volunteering to engage the whole family through wishes, because that’s what Make-A-Wish did for my family.”