Derek Robb is an excellent example of that. Born in Palatine, raised in Lake Zurich, and living in Hoffman Estates, 29-year-old Derek has been volunteering for Make-A-Wish for three years now, granting six wishes and volunteering at 14 events. When he's not volunteering his time to Make-A-Wish, Derek is also a part time nanny for a few different families in the suburbs.
It was during the popular “My Wish” series on ESPN SportsCenter that Derek learned about Make-A-Wish. Since he frequently works with kids, he has a soft spot in his heart for the kids that were being featured. And even though Derek was young and not making much money at the time he discovered Make-A-Wish, he found that he could do things to help. He decided to donate a little money here and there whenever he could. After donating to Make-A-Wish for a while, Derek thought to himself: “Why not! I got a little bit of free time; I’ll try and volunteer a little bit.” Now, whenever he has some free time he tries to fit in some volunteering for Make-A-Wish.
Since getting involved with Make-A-Wish, one of Derek’s most memorable experiences was in the course of granting a wish.
“It was a Disney wish, so it kind of wasn’t original or really cool in that way, but the excitement the wish child had for her wish, seeing how it affected her, and how it made her and her family happy was great.” It was also the first time Derek was able to build a really strong relationship with a child and their family through being a wish granter. In fact, they are still in touch even after the wish has been granted. Building relationships is something that Derek always tries to do through his work as a nanny, so it was wonderful for him to see parts of his world collide like that.
Volunteering Helps Derek Find Perspective
“Seeing some of the things that these kids have to go through and seeing how they can still be happy and sweet and just the best kids you could want around, even when they are going through such hard times… it really opens up your mind and makes you realize what you’re taking for granted,” Derek said of why working with Make-A-Wish inspires him.
“It is a great place to volunteer if your heart is in it. You will meet children who are going through unfathomably difficult situations and you need to be part of their support system in those times. Even if you're only going to meet them once, you become part of their lives and can contribute to their healing. So, your heart is in it, it's one of the most rewarding things you can do. You will meet so many wonderful children who, despite everything they're going through, are sweet and kind and looking to help other children like them. You will have times that you'll want to cry, but you will have so many more times where you'll be laughing and smiling and just feeding off of the love of life that these children have.”
Giving His All for Wish Kids
“Derek is an incredible volunteer, to say the very least. Not only is he a great wish granter who regularly balances 4+ wishes at a time, but he is one of our best event and outreach volunteers. This summer alone he has come through for us as the only volunteer onsite at multiple events, none of which could have happened without him. He is also the best at fulfilling last-minute requests, and he always shows up early and eager to help with whatever we need. I wish I had 20 more Derek Robbs – my job would be so much easier,” said Heather Evans, volunteer coordinator at Make-A-Wish Illinois.