Volunteer Spotlight: Joanne Walker
Joanne Walker has known about Make-A-Wish since a relative’s daughter was granted a wish some 30 years ago. The event moved Joanne and sparked a desire in her to get involved, but since she was still too busy in the work force, she knew the time wasn’t right.
By 2016, Joanne was retired and had a lot more free time. The Palatine resident still felt drawn to Make-A-Wish even then, and by January 2017, she was officially a volunteer at Make-A-Wish Illinois.
“I’d always wanted to do it, and I figured I’d give it a shot,” Joanne said.
Having expected more “hands-off” work, Joanne was pleasantly surprised to learn that volunteering entailed much more than that. She helped out at Wish Ball 2017 and other events, and after making her mark that way, she decided to try out wish granting.
Her first and only wish thus far – helping 16-year-old Anna go to the 2018 GRAMMY Awards – left a huge impact on Joanne.
“[The wish reveal] was such a fun surprise, and just seeing her face light up was amazing,” Joanne said. “She was exceedingly excited.”
Even though Joanne has only been a volunteer for a year, she said she’s learned a lot about the world and about Make-A-Wish in that time.
“I realized I’m a whole lot better off than a lot of people,” Joanne said. “I’m a lot more appreciative of the good things in my life now. I’ve learned how gracious people can be when you really need them – people helping out with wishes are so accommodating, helpful and nice.”
On a personal level, volunteering for Make-A-Wish has given Joanne a sense of hope and kept her optimistic through dark days.
“Make-A-Wish gives you such a positive outlook on life,” Joanne said. “I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and I’m constantly amazed by the effort … of staff and volunteers. When I tell people I’m a volunteer, I hope it gets more people involved.”