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A Wish Come True Meets a Community Gap in Services
WARWICK, R.I. (June 9, 2021) – A Wish Come True, the oldest wish-granting organization in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, has expanded its mission to include providing additional support for families that have a child with a life-threatening illness.
A Wish Come True is the only wish-granting organization in the area that provides these additional supports, which include a financial assistance fund, a self-care program for parents and soon for Wish Kids.
“We are now granting Wishes AND providing resources to the families because we listened,” said Mary-Kate O’Leary, the Executive Director of A Wish Come True. “The families love their Wish experience, but they also indicated that they come home to difficult challenges emotionally, physically and financially and they have no one to turn to.”
A year and a half ago, the organization launched the Meghan K. Duffy Memorial Hardship Fund, named after the board chair’s daughter who passed away at 11, before her Wish could be granted. Often families who have a child with a life-threatening illness face financial hardships due to overwhelming medical bills and excessive transportation to doctor’s appointments for treatments. These tremendous expenses often leave very little money to spend on extras such as cleaning supplies or toiletries. Oftentimes, parents are required to take time off of work to care for their child. The hardship fund provides $1,500 in support to families in crisis for basic needs such as bill payments, rent, groceries, or car repairs.
“It is a tremendous stress on families. While there might be resources out there to help, our families have no time at all to look because they are so worried about their own child. It’s a gap in services that no one is addressing, which is why we decided to step up and do something,” O’Leary said.
So far, 15 families in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have received over $22,000 in assistance from the fund.
Last year, A Wish Come True was unable to grant Wishes as it normally does because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it lent a helping hand to families during the holidays. For Thanksgiving, the organization gave families turkeys and gift certificates. At Christmas time, it provided $23,000 worth of gifts to 43 families.
“My kids wouldn’t have had a Christmas without A Wish Come True. Financially, we were barely making it,” said Jerilyn Dupuis, the mother of two children with a progressive tumor disease. At the time, Dupuis’ husband was also dealing with his own health condition, which forced him out of work and on medical leave right before Christmas.
Dupuis and her husband have also been supported in another program. The Wish of Wellness for Families, a partnership with Raffa Yoga in Cranston and Integrative Healthcare Solutions, brings 20 mothers and fathers together once a month for a day of support group meetings, educational presentations, and self-care. Activities include yoga or an Urban Sweat experience, such as sitting in a sauna or steam room.
“Being able to genuinely relax and learn how to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically is a huge thing because we put ourselves last so often. Our kids always come first,” Dupuis said. “Having a few hours to de-stress makes such a difference. We recommend it to any Wish family. The best part about the group is that we all find support in each other since no one else really understands what it is like unless it is your own child.”
A Wish Come True is planning on expanding The Wish of Wellness, which began last August.
These new programs are examples of A Wish Come True’s deep and lasting commitment to the families it serves.
“They really do understand and go above and beyond, and my family is so thankful,” Dupuis said.
A Wish Come True currently has two full time staff and two part time staff. Two employees are Wish Moms and, most recently, a former Wish Child was hired. The Executive Director is a sibling of a child that passed away, the Board Chair Colleen Duffy’s daughter passed away and a former Wish Child is also on the Board. They have surrounded themselves with expertise and remain committed to their mission to grant children suffering with a life-threatening illness a magical Wish.
To learn more about how you can support a wish kid and their family, please visit our website www.awish.org.
ABOUT A WISH COME TRUE
A Wish Come True, Inc. is a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization founded on October 8, 1982. We are the oldest wish granting organization in RI and MA. Our mission is to provide wishes and resources to families with a child (ages 3-18), suffering with a life-threatening illness that live throughout Rhode Island and Southeastern MA.
A Wish Come True, Inc.| 1010 Warwick Ave., Warwick RI, 02888 Office: 401-781-9199 | Mobile: 401-644-2237