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Make-A-Wish Foundation

Sep 18, 2010|

A discussion with Andrew Asato, the Executive Director of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Of Oregon, about how their organization works and what you can do to help out in their amazing mission.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

You're listening to make yourself a series of interviews as people of interest in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington. I'm your host pet doubles now we've all heard of the organization known as -- make a wish foundation but today we're gonna actually get into what they knew how they do it and how you can help them do what they do I do just that I have with us today the executive director for the make a wish foundation of -- Andrew risotto. How are you -- I'm doing well thank you -- absolutely my pleasure so to give our listeners a little bit of background and yourself -- used to listen what you do for make a wish -- and when make which doesn't general. Well I as you sit on the executive director of the foundation of the Oregon chapter of the make A wish foundation and the title itself I guess -- could be many big debate people but it certainly managing the the overall direction of the foundation across the state of Oregon and southwest Washington. As -- local nonprofit. And what is your history what what brought you to make a wish. Well you know what day when I graduated from college got a couple of decades ago I didn't know what I wanted to do that kind and you haven't figured out if I went on to something a little bit different and I went out. It's something like that peace corps. Volunteer program and ended up in a nonprofit organization in southern Oregon and at that time might happen to be a big step speeding that was an unpaid volunteer rate indications now are full time for a year and district director then perhaps a nonprofit work. Just have a targeted at -- he can. He looked at me and smiled and city you'll with percent perfect yet to learn how to raise money -- if you go back to school study management much like you with this administration public administration. Play I took that advice and pit in my pocket and moved to Portland and. And long story short I've been it is not -- -- over twenty years and I've worked in most instances where the children families and I've been very fortunate to be part of the make A wish foundation for the past decade. Fantastic so let's get -- make a wish a little bit generally what is the mission of the make a wish foundation. You know that's that's the wonderful piece of it is so simple it's -- grand a heartfelt wish to a child who is struggling more than a life threatening medical conditions. And it's been that same mission for the past thirty years in fact we're celebrating their thirtieth anniversary this fall as to make a wish foundation of America. But we really haven't changed the scope and direction we are reaching out to children or we have children reach out to us who have played turning don't assist. If and when they do they refer to us and -- our. Very focused mission to discover what their wish might be and do our best to make that wish possible for that child. And we're now granting of the 2000 wishes a year across the country. And here in Oregon and southwest Washington regretting not 380 wishes a year I'm very proud of that almost wish every other day care marketing. And I can ask you some kind of layperson questions and I've always wondered if it might. Be kind of crass topic but how do you qualify somebody for being part of make a wish foundation I imagine you get all kinds of requests that can't necessarily be granted. That's a great question and I think that's to me -- big misunderstanding to make wishes that it's not here it's somewhere out there we've all heard the name but it happens magically and then they just connect and that's an -- and it really -- and it starts with a referral of the child to that foundation and how does that happen. Well a doctor -- leg specialist a social worker or our immediate family member mom dad or wish child themselves they have actually preferred. Themselves to us for their patients. Once we receive never -- we're communicating directly with a speech outs position. And it's different challenge position actually determines whether child eligible. Of course we have a criteria of being a life threatening medical technician and oftentimes will meet here this we think if cancer is not just sarcoma. Leukemia we we here. Cystic fibrosis -- -- and and the major conditions retreat but really it's a position to qualify as a child. Our responsibilities to make sure we -- very clear and strong relationships with -- Furl sources that they know which medical conditions do qualifying which don't and that we're making sure where. Put your resources to -- and the kids who are qualified. And is there an age range. The age ranges between two and a half and clear seventeenth birthday so he referred after two and a half -- before you turn eighteen and you're deemed eligible. Well that's our mission to make sure that -- happens. You mentioned do you make a wish foundation of America that you guys are -- make a wish foundation of organ. So being part of a national organization has a breakdown the state level. Well it's having to -- being part of the national organization and and and it certainly helps -- when you turn on the television and you see our access to close sports stars celebrity's. Football games World Series -- to the White House. But I wish happens to be a president but if you really chunk county organization were still very grassroots and that's the piece that I most enjoy sitting in my chair here Oregon is that. We have 64 local chapters. So -- what does well chapters -- our our separate title and -- -- now profits. Under the umbrella and the performance standards of the national organization because our brand is so important that we -- working. And with the highest standards as a nonprofit where the -- Portland Oregon or Portland Maine but what we do -- do is we raise our own resources locally we have our local staff here -- again. We train our local volunteers recruit them and hopefully retain them and we have a local board that provides leadership or the foundations so very much still lady local organizations. -- we have. The national brand Indian national connections for us. To help with wishes to connect to celebrities and Hollywood -- you have relationships with of course this they whenever our biggest partners. So -- to put in terms of kind of more well known business model it's like if you took the big national fast food chain. You know you've you've got -- McDonald's and burger king and Taco Bell but they have local franchises. And local owners that own those business even those part of a bigger umbrella. Greg solo I don't benefit from Minnesota there's been particularly great about what we do -- -- of the data that goes miles right right I -- say this is in my organization I have the EP. Fortunate opportunity to be -- this foundation and as we talk about this with our -- office here in our team -- -- we have an obligation to lead this organization better than we found it make sure. We're only here for Johnny or Susie he's gonna be referred to the foundation. When they get that diagnosis of right and any parent would just not wanna hear and and they know that -- certainly as a parent myself and and that's evident list. Our close family members. You are the executive director of make a wish foundation of organs are you working out of the local chapter. Yes we have one office in Portland and that's what we'd do is instead of having offices all over the state we try to run as clean as we can with one -- our -- Well we do they're resources into driving into the corners of the state kids trained volunteers locally to build leadership on our board locally so it's central Oregon. How do we developed an awareness slowly work with our volunteers and we build. Partners they're locally so that they can graduations that a case of an English we're busy behind the scenes -- our office here in Portland. Giving them the resources to make sure they have the plane tickets ready itineraries and make right limousine rides and then the balloon that will bring magic to a child and family. That has to be very rewarding job. It is we have a wall opposite order star or they're over 2000. Gush over 2000 charters started on that law while. With a wand and after every staff meeting we had. The stars up wishes -- read for that month and it's a constant reminder of we we measure success one wish at a time because every wishes as you get a trial and by having volunteers in our office put. It's personal -- -- wish kid themselves with their own star on the walk there's nothing mortar. Impact both London and bringing -- back to. We are trying to make something magical happened -- I just per child but for their Brothers and sisters and moms and dads whoever they're guardians are definitely unit -- is. It is quite frankly going through that illness which which a child. They agreed and again that they're struggling together. And it and it's this sense of hope strength and joy that I wished -- a family at the end of that very dark. Not -- everybody in the who's been through that knows that having a little little light -- that tunnel is not a bad thing at all. So you mentioned the add a few stars every meeting how many grants are you wishing a year but let's -- specifically into Oregon and southwest Washington. How many machinery granny here we are cramming about a 180 little over 180 wishes while and we just a -- years ago where we're -- about a hundred wishes a year and of course we've we have planned we do that more than 200 kids every year could be eligible for wishes and so our goal is to catch up with that -- We could grow we got into the modern medium range and we don't know that things didn't turn out so well with the economy -- ago we continue to struggle. But what can we committed ourselves to -- today. We don't we are business -- aren't security when he depleted Iraqis well and good times and bad times and a -- transition you plan for bad times and fortunately we did and we are still at that number and chipper gonna hold the line to make sure we can. Do everything possible to keep that number 680 debacle backwards and and fortunately that's where we have been able to maintain and and that's our planned. For the coming year to granddaughter he wishes to. -- all across Torre and then of course in -- county Washington as well. And what is the range of witches say you get asked to grant give us like with the simplest wish to meet the most extravagant. Yeah ideologically they come and four categories it's -- I wish to go. Now we all know about this maintains it has to be a pretty popular wish for the six year old child. I wish to go where Mickey I was to go to Disney letter writing world I wouldn't and then we asked quietly chipped away trying to. There's a wish to be mediated -- superhero which is a -- wish that certainly has been granted. Yeah I saw the coverage of us up in Seattle yeah I would not one dollar was amazing amazing is select the whole town came out help Alan Alan. That's security building aspect of the wished that we -- -- touch on and the few minutes here I wish to be a contrary to all types of different be a policeman for today. If firefighter. And then I wish Q have maybe it's a computer to stay in touch with your friends since your -- your school is. Address the hospital -- have a -- -- are we have a wish right now on Oregon for a child who wants band instruments to pursue middle school -- because they can't afford them and I wish to beat it's another category in type I wish to meet the President -- -- -- Oprah Winfrey or wish to meet my favorite movie star order to meet Justin -- It hasn't done. But they've really can be as simple as I -- have a party in my backyard -- -- -- can't -- a barbecue for everybody to get together because they see other family struggles with them what a wonderful wish we just -- today I wanted to mention was for a little boy named Cooper has been fortunate opportunity to be part of tuition experience that because his wish was to know construction questioned and Cooper I think can't be older than. For him. I was referred to us a little evil for -- because cancer that he's challenged and struggling with with this family the Cooper. So what. Thanks to the cult of talk in the valley fire rescue to was able to pick up Cooper at his home and put into the backseat with his brother didn't -- -- -- It took him wanted to wish you -- machine Syria and north Portland. Where they had all these big dump truck so -- in -- called front loaders. A big pilot gravel and -- -- sign welcoming him on the side of the road and balloons at a table with goodies. He showed up excited as heck to get out of a fire truck to spend about two hours helping move they're -- third big holes. It doesn't third and of course console port -- all these very big John Deere tractor. It all the well you distressed has made an alpha expression made specially for him by it about it not a company called Cooper construction of the -- make bush supporter who actually had a custom uniform before him as well. That's cool and magic command morning Cooper became the chief. I think it's a machine operator if you will complete with this certificate and a. And they steal key that was attached that happened that TC along -- the presenting him with his name on it and that if he ever he was driving around the West Coast and haven't. Combat heavy missionary center he could go there and actually certificate and be -- Iraq had been one of the -- that he episode which is still wouldn't bring that magic that day and that child and and that mom and dad and an extended family members can have and the opportunity to be able to get -- the -- truck yeah. And it didn't take this on the clamp down and then to have. The community and stops for Providence has you know that we can do something special it's not always about money it's about giving a child an opportunity to treatment they believe they experience and experience and that morning it. I can't I can't put it I can't put a value on -- the magic shares but I can tell you haven't seen wishes you well over a thousand wishes granted over the years it's a good here every -- -- -- -- because a child wishes -- -- If you're just joining us you're listening to match stoke a series of interviews with people of interest to northwest Oregon and southwest Washington I'm your host -- Douglas. I'm speaking today -- Andrew risotto the executive director of the make A wish foundation of origin we're talking about. That's how the organization works on the wishes they granted -- will be getting into you here soon how you can help out there's a big fund -- coming up involving big town hero sandwich shop we'll get to that in just a moment but. I want to get into a little that you can you mentioned how the community gets involved and specifically in reference to the superhero wish there was crashed in Seattle last year describe a little bit -- everybody listening what -- -- That wish I could I don't know much about. Well I can give you a little bit somewhat small comfort John it was amazing news is little boy I don't remember his condition. But he's which was to be a superhero for a day so they had I think using the deputy mayor came around gave him -- key to the city they made him a costume and while he was accepting his award. A report came in that some criminals had kidnapped a professional soccer team it is there in Seattle but they had kidnapped them and he needed to save them so at first you need to go to I think it was to the Space Needle and stop some guys -- generation which he did block there are everywhere yet there and they had the police escorts. Let's -- took him there. And begin their defeated them and then then they got word that the that the team was that the stadium. So he had to go to the stadium and let them out of the locker room had been locked in the locker room. He used like his magic wand I think he had some sort of stick that would that had his superpowers that he made up. And you let them out. And then the whole team had gathered around him and thanked him and what took pictures with them out on the field in the stadium it was really just spectacular but it seemed like. So many people in the community came out just to help with that one -- experience on that day. It's it's not a domino effect the youth you throw this rocket a positive and the ripples -- deformity politicians say the word may push yourself and I helped write what what you need and how can I make of this particular wish a little -- Magical and then it's a snowball effect is what it really is. Okay so we when we've talked about how you have you know certainly the community comes out wants to help and you've got volunteers. That want to help. But you also need money you money to make all these amazing dreams happen for these children how is it that you are funded. We're funded by simply local resources and I think sometimes people think well maybe they get a big contract -- they get money for another place it's really about. Any dollars Nichols called everything you can make of credit cards. People decided to give up a local basis and so we're not we're not part of united way we of course don't receive any large contracts with government or big foundations are really grassroots and then -- I mean by that is we we have -- for wish kids we have kids and schools raising money. And I schools as senior projects -- words kids -- know old classmate you have an element of medical conditions like threatening and they receive a wish and say we wanna be a part of may be adopted another which. People to workplace giving people making it and donations to companies and you know we're gonna adopt one wish a year in Eugene where businesses and Edward involve our employees and that it may be that someone has a Family Foundation and and would like to hoped it would wished. But -- it is certainly grassroots and comes from individuals comes from businesses small businesses corporations big partners like Macy's to involve their customers but it's also not just about money it's about. Time and resource and so. Volunteers are donating their time they're all local folks within a community that -- jobs. Maybe they retired but they put -- that logo and they -- make -- wish had not received it before it there are highly trained volunteers pick Romney would -- families and -- very quick summation where of course the -- -- most of most of that result -- -- We didn't -- trucks. We don't have trucks -- to fire department kitchen and -- an experience that we can't put a value on its the company buying things and for. Cooper and his brother but another important way to treat her like my house the majority of our wishes our travel. Over three quarters of them. Well which recorders could involve travel we always involved as much as we can immediate family living with -- -- kids mom dad and and then siblings and. Let me do that we require a whole heck of a lot of airline tickets if you can imagine so. People can donate airline miles on an airline -- Alaska Airlines which is also a big part of that donate tickets on top of miles that's just a creative way that people give him when you put that altogether for the average cost of militia value of militias over 70000 dollars plus goal every time -- received a wished that is eligible every budget to. To do. We're busy out there raising resources what our credit militias and -- to keep that engine humming right along. Perhaps how how do people go about donating to make a wish. Well there's there's variety of ways said the prime what do most simplest way to learn more about us and the make it donation amount of time treasure talented to go to our web site. It's all our wish dot org -- so hard WI SH dot org. Everything you need to know about from volunteering to make a donation to -- airline miles getting involved. Maybe your company wants to get involved there's political turn -- want to benefit make wished. He could simply click in there and everything you need is there. To get a live person here Oregon the other way of course which were very excited cute to share is whatever partners they count -- And I think it's just such a wonderful example of how business is out there continue to elect. Where in the communities -- -- grant -- to our customers command here and we have a -- would want to make me wanna make it damaged most malicious if -- if we can't adopt a -- of their customers and so of course yesterday the county hero what's going to -- -- -- that they were offering up free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in exchange for donations by Astaro at any other locations. And throughout the month of September they've been silent stars will continue to -- their supporters make tuition credits to encourage folks -- -- to tell your sandwiches which are very -- They're amazing and -- how -- they got me through a several years of college or Portland State. You tell you you have -- your kids are the backseat and your your minivan stopped and very and in other kids about make oration. To be -- are the harder you try out the -- and put it up there on the -- maybe your grandkids and how we're just excited that their relationship but I think that speaks to their very grassroots nature how we grant wishes without those dollars and without their community support from companies like big town hero. We just simply wouldn't be doing the number of -- we just. Yeah and end when you think about volunteering that you know you might. Think well I just have this ho hum job what can I possibly do to help thinking he could donate your time we certainly don't -- a little bit of money. But you never know you know what kind of connection you might have the sounds like a lot of these wish user are granted because somebody knows somebody can get access to some -- And you never know what you might be the key to. You never know you know if you if you know someone -- we were gonna build a Playhouse and you -- some cash councilman who works at it would products company and. You don't know they have quite a bit of -- -- in the corner they're warehoused. That they just can't use force -- came -- we can pull us together and texting you know we've we've got the ingredients to make a wish somebody had a window that they know their window company and then they're willing to donate a little window to make this little. I play house beautiful Playhouse and these are real life circumstances that we are able to make which is possible. That's right they're just mentioning those things I do you know somebody works and when that company you know senator and would supply the picture. We'll get a Playhouse which -- is under is this. Here's the unique one I hope everybody can see it and teach you -- -- there I believe asserted you know miles for smiles teleconference. And it's exactly what it says it is it's it's pretty airline miles donations African player airline miles. I think with smiles on kids' faces to require travel and we are doing now on October 8. And they get this all this information -- on our website at or wish start or very. You gotta keep you as well but. October aid will be airing throughout today we'll have volunteers on hand to -- airline miles and now we can take any of the major carriers and it's a very simple thing to do all you need is your mileage account number knowing how -- I donate and course to take many coming here -- really making a push and we hope to raise millions of miles that day. Sure sure and then when people see other people donating it kind of activates them. That's right yeah and another thing we have coming up but October October 15 is are we wanted to wish scale and it's whatever. These defensive a year that raises few 100000 dollars -- which is phenomenal for a spent that money issues. To go back out to grant wishes all over the state of Oregon and revenue they get strip approach to art museum here and we hope there's folks like a night out on the town and would like to triggered can't speak to welcome them to join us and again. That's about front page of our website as well. And they did a little bit quick math here you know you do and around a 180 wishes Lisa digital did last year for gonna southwest Washington. And he'd roughly 7000 or thereabouts -- wish. As how that average out so we're talking about one point two million dollars in services and it's money that goes out to print these which is so you guys need some help. Today that's a pretty quickly we think about -- -- happening every other day here in the month of September -- fifteen wishes and we are just you know legal aspect too we're still very grassroots and and that and that's what's so wonderful about this organization for here in the community. We're we're working hard to make sure we raise -- profile that people understand. Word responsible and accountable whispered to resources that we have and we have produced our calculations and that demand is there we have over fifty kids -- scheduled here's the next few months and it comes in any organization and we wanna make sure that we're able. Put it back out in a timely manner takes us. On average about six and nine months to grant a wish that I have a referral bluff and that means. Sometimes it might take a little bit longer -- It is it's a slippery way short actually with a sports event we don't want to be about money but of course we're also wanna be in a position be able to grant a wish and a week if we have to. And and and certainly we're we're blessed to be able to do that and it's never something you wanna have to do that quickly but -- happens. We have to be ready as I can tell you that. We have never return a little spoiled child and America it is never too. Well that's great thank you so much for all the work you do -- we have. Come up here on the end of our time. But thank you for making the time to be here again dangerous -- is the executive director of make a wish foundation of organ and we've been talking about the amazing work that they do and -- look out for the upcoming fundraisers on October -- on -- using miles for smiles telephone you can donate your frequent flier miles to help with travel related wishes. Also the food wine which is gala on October 5 at the Portland art museum you can find out all about. Everything they do including these events and how you can donate your time or money at -- wish dot Orix thanks again Andrew. And you thank you Ted and I appreciate your time and thank you dear listeners. Absolutely all right we'll that will do it for another addition to -- just go in Entercom communications public affairs program I think your host -- Douglas. They give a nonprofit or public affairs organization that you would like to let others know about please email me at an interest go bad entercom.com and air concerts than you. And please put met telescope in the subject lines it and get snag comment spam filter. According go directly to the station's website click on the community link and submit your information there. Also -- like -- this program again you can visit our podcast page at Mets are still PX dot com where you'll find this and the last couple months worth of episodes. And please feel free to link this to your FaceBook your blog your MySpace what have you let's try to get this information out to as many people as possible and help with the awareness of these wonderful make a wish foundation thank you all for listening thank you again Andrew this is thin -- go. So you think you. Having. -- -- Com. Do you -- Yeah.