Making wishes come true is the motto for Make-A-Wish Arizona. The nonprofit has been helping children battling serious and sometimes life-threatening illnesses since 1980.
But there are more than 570 children in Arizona who need a volunteer to help them through the process, and many of them don’t speak English.
According to Make-a-Wish Arizona, 30% of the kids waiting for a wish are Latinos residing mainly in the Tucson and Yuma areas. But it’s been hard finding bilingual volunteers during the pandemic.
“A lot of the volunteers think it is going to be every single day for a lot of hours, and the reality is that is sometimes during the week, and you’re not more than 15-20 minutes on the phone with the family,” stated Eduardo De Los Santos, a manager at Make-A-Wish Arizona.
But the experience he says goes beyond being an interpreter. A volunteer becomes part of the kid’s family and part of their happiness.
“I don’t speak English. I can understand some, but I don’t know how to respond,” said Minerva Ornelas.
Ornelas’s 16-year-old daughter is a brain cancer survivor. After her diagnosis, she had one request: a vacation to a cabin with her family.
“It’s a nice place to go, and it’s fun,” said Ashley Soto, Ornelas’s daughter.
But, the process of applying and gathering all the information to grant the wish can be tough if you don’t speak English.
“It’s really helpful to have a bilingual person to guide us,” said Ornelas.
She says, Make-A-Wish Arizona went even further for her family. Not only did they make Ashley’s wish possible, but also provided the family with a car for the magical trip.
“It kind of opens that door for a lot of people, it just makes you feel like you are part of a bigger cause than just doing something for a family,” expressed De Los Santos.
To learn more about becoming a volunteer, visit https://wish.org/arizona or call 602-395-WISH (9474).