You’ve all seen the white sign on the corner of 32nd and Nob Hill that says “Children’s Wishes & Dreams”…but what do they do? We talked to Founder, Heidi Anderson, to see what inspired her to create this non-profit organization that would grant children their “wishes and dreams.”A long time dancer, Heidi ran her own dance studio in Yakima for many years. A very sweet four-year old dance student wanted nothing more than to dance forever. At this young age, she was diagnosed with leukemia and began the long road of treatments. Throughout her recovery from chemotherapy, she would wear her Mickey Mouse ears on her head and a mask if needed when counts were low. Heidi and the girl's mom would arrange for private dance lessons if needed, so she could continue her dancing between treatments. She loved Mickey Mouse, and dreamt of going to Disneyland to see Mickey!
The leukemia was proving to be quite the defiant dance partner, so the next step was to receive a bone marrow transplant in Seattle. While the family was away, Heidi and the girl's students and families wanted to do something to help this little girl get to Disneyland – to see HER dream come true. They planned and orchestrated an original ballet fundraiser called “Snow White and the Eight Dwarfs” – the girl would be represented by the part of the 8th dwarf. (I bet her name would have been Dancer.) The ballet was cast, music choreographed, costumes made, and the location was chosen, The Little Theatre at Eisenhower High School.
Opening night was beautiful! But there was a sad undertone. You see, the day of the performance, the girl gave her final performance and went on to dance in heaven. Her mom told Heidi that when they got the news that the transplant did not work the two of them were in her hospital room just talking. Since it was a cloudy day in Seattle, her mom began blowing bubbles out the window to help the girl take her mind off of everything. The little girl, who had such an incredibly positive outlook on life, her family, and dancing, would find something in each and every day that was special. On this day, she said, “See mom, bubbles look pretty on a cloudy day.”
To remember the girl, Heidi asked everyone to blow bubbles for the girl at the park the day after the performance. Sometime later, seeing a display for a wish organization, Heidi said, “That is what I want to do, I want to be able to ensure that no other child’s wish floats away like the bubbles on a cloudy day…” and that began her wish work.
Children’s Wishes & Dreams came 14 years later when she decided to leave another wish organization with the clear goal that the money raised here in Yakima, would stay here for our local children with life-threatening illnesses or severe life-altering conditions.
Children’s Wishes & Dreams is a completely volunteer non-profit organization with a Board of Directors, and since their inception in 2005 they have granted over 190 wishes, supported solely by donations from individuals, families and our community businesses.
Children’s Wishes & Dreams has such a wonderful team of volunteers, and they all have different feelings about why they are volunteering . I thought it would be nice to give them a chance to speak out . As the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child”…… well, it takes a great team to grant a wish - raise the money and make the wishes happen.
Thoughts and feelings from some Children’s Wishes & Dreams Volunteers:
Often times, I get asked how and why I started doing wish granting. Our new marketing partner, Culture Kitten, interviewed me in April to learn all the details. Below is the story they wrote on how and why my wish work began. Hope you enjoy!
Heidi Anderson, Founder and President, Children’s Wishes & Dreams
Children's Wishes & Dreams is a 501-C-3 non-profit organization, that is solely operated by volunteers (No Paid Employees), serving the Yakima Valley and Walla Walla areas. We grant wishes to local children who have a life-threatening illness OR severe life-altering injury. We are the only organization in Washington to grant wishes to children with severe injuries.
Each location works for the children in their area only, the money stays at their location.
We are currently registered with the Secretary of State Charities Program. For more financial information call 1-800-332-4483.
The Yakima volunteers meet the 2nd Monday of each month at 6 pm at the VFW Hall located at 118 S 5th Ave Yakima, WA 98902.
Walla Walla volunteer monthly meetings, please call 509-502-5396 for time and place of meeting.
Everyone is welcome to attend this informational meeting.
Have you ever felt that ache in your heart knowing that a child in your community is in need of something special to make them smile if not just for a little while? What can you do and who will help you find that child? Children’s Wishes and Dreams will help you find that child and your contribution will relieve that ache in your heart. That is why I volunteer. With a little help from you and a little help from me a child will smile today.
Dale & Roberta Funkhouser:
Why we love Children’s Wishes & Dreams - Having recently retired and relocated to Moxee, WA, we were looking for something that we could do to give back to our new community. Our friends, Bill & Linda Raber, suggested that we could volunteer with the Children’s Wishes & Dreams of Yakima. We attended our first meeting just two weeks after moving here, and we were hooked. What’s not to love about a charitable organization that:
Has no paid positions, and is 100% run by volunteers
Keeps all of the money raised within the Yakima Valley community to benefit local children
Grants wishes for seriously ill or terminally ill children
Thank you, Children’s Wishes & Dreams for the opportunity to volunteer with such a worthwhile charity.
To me the two most important aspects of Children’s Wishes & Dreams is the fact that ALL the money stays local and it is entirely volunteer operated.
The part that makes me feel the best are the wishes that help give so many children a much needed quality of life, such as an iPad to help with communication.
I decided to attend a meeting of CHILDREN’S WISHES AND DREAMS when a friend said what a good feeling he got from helping make a wish come true for one of "our wish children". To be able to help make a wish come true for a child that has severe health problems, be it a purple and white trim playhouse in back yard, or a teenager that wishes to have her bedroom made over in white, red and black, or a child going to Disneyland. To see the joy in their faces and to know that you helped make that wish come true. It is very rewarding.
I love being a volunteer for Children’s Wishes & Dreams. I get great satisfaction knowing that we, with the help of our supporters, make a difference in the lives of the children who come to us. Knowing that their daily struggles are made a little easier by bringing joy into their hearts and smiles on their faces; there’s no better feeling in the world than knowing that we all worked so hard to make it happen.
Originally, I started volunteering simply because I wanted to do something for our community and for children. Since I've been volunteering, I've learned how devastating the circumstances are for our wish children AND their families. Many of these children have multiple maladies and I've learned just how challenging it can be for them to get through even a day. Beyond that, the families are totally wrapped up in their affected child's life, and both financially and emotionally, have little left over for anything else. I know the wishes we grant make their lives a little easier and even bring a little joy into their lives. We've sent kids to theme parks, built play ground sets, sent them to specialized camps, given tools like computers and tablets to help communicate and much, much more. The reward to me is just in knowing that what we've done makes a difference. Whether it makes a child's life a little easier, or brings memories and laughter to a whole family, we made a difference!
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