Road trip to grant wishes to foster care youth

One woman takes a journey into the “foster care village” across the United States

Photo: Foster Focus Magazine

WASHINGTON, DC, June 26, 2012 — One Simple Wish is a website-based organization whose goal is to connect children and families in need with their wishes, which might include anything from family trips to custom-fitted cars to basic school supplies.

Danielle Gletow is the Founder & Executive Director of One Simple Wish and has been a passionate advocate for children’s rights and foster care reform for nearly a decade.  She has appeared on The Nate Berkus Show & in Woman’s World Magazine to share her journey about adopting through foster care & creating One Simple Wish.

She was part of a team that embarked on a mission to deliver gifts in spring of 2012.  This is her story of road trip revelations:

Danielle Gletow

On May 3, we pulled our 28-foot RV up to Broad Branch Market in Washington, DC and filed out with signs, awareness bracelets, and a large check in hand. 

At this point, the One Simple Wish crew had been on the road for just three days.  We had left Trenton, New Jersey on May 1 to begin a nearly 6,000 mile journey across the United States to grant thirty wishes in thirty cities in thirty days to kids in foster care.

One of the most powerful experiences for me was in Washington.  We were there to see Sam, a young man who, at nineteen, had aged out of foster care. He is one of the nearly 20,000 who age out each year without being adopted by a forever family. 

This was our second encounter with Sam and his smile was just as welcoming as it had been when we had met him in February at a pediatric rehab center outside the District. 

Sam had grown up in foster care, suffering abuse in one home and moving several times before settling in with “Miss Betty.” Living in foster care had been difficult.  Also difficult was dealing with medical issues stemming from cerebral palsy.

People who don’t know Sam might think he’d have a lot to feel sorry for himself about.  The hand he was dealt in life just didn’t seem fair.  But Sam isn’t like most people; he radiates the kind of positive energy, love and hope that you might expect to see from a Yogi.  He is the kind of guy you can’t help but love instantly.

Sam’s one wish was for a handicap-accessible van. He wanted to be able to do all the things that anyone his age would do: hang out with friends, go to the mall, find a girlfriend. When I learned about Sam’s wish, I made it my personal mission to raise enough funds to get him the van. 

Despite my efforts, fundraising proved more difficult than expected. When our crew arrived in DC we were able to present Sam with a check for $2,000, the start to what we still hope will become enough to get Sam the van and the freedom he wishes for.  (For more about Sam visit www.onesimplewish.org/samswish)

Sam was surrounded by his support system that day: his caseworker, his legal guardian, and several friends.  And as we traveled beyond DC we found that it is these people — an intricate, eclectic mix of professionals, advocates, mentors and caregivers — who are truly at the core of the positive side of our nation’s child welfare system. 

These are the people who are making up the villages that are raising children in foster care.  They may not agree on politics, religion, or social issues, but they stand together on one common platform: the need to rally around these vulnerable children to make sure they feel supported, loved and nurtured. 

Our journey took us to thirty cities in nineteen states and introduced us to hundreds of people who make up “the system.”  It is filled with people who truly want to see children succeed — to see cycles broken and futures built.

Since 2008, One Simple Wish has been doing more than just granting wishes to kids in foster care. We are also enabling people from all walks of life to show a child that their voices, their hopes, and their wishes matter. 

This program was founded on the belief that there is goodness, love and support in this world for everyone, especially children who have suffered unimaginable loss and trauma.  We are helping to expand the network of people who are helping kids when they are at their lowest lows and who are helping them celebrate their greatest achievements. 

We are rallying more people together to join the village we all know it takes to raise a child.

For more on One Simple Wish visit www.onesimplewish.org


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Andrea Poe

Andrea Poe is a veteran journalist, whose work has appeared in thousands of publications, including Town & Country, Marie Claire and Entrepreneur.  She is the author of several books and her work has appeared in many others, including anthologies and college textbooks. 

Andrea serves as editor of the Travel & Food section at The Washington Times Communities.  Her love of travel has led her to cover everything from remote villages in the Andes to her hometown of New York, from Paris to Pittsburgh, from Beijing to the Bahamas.  No matter where she travels, she likes to uncover the unusual and share with readers those often-overlooked aspects of a place and its people.  She dubs her column Raven’s Eye as a nod to her illustrious (and, yes, infamous) relative, Edgar Allan Poe, a writer who knew more than a little something about the quirky and unique.  

Andrea is also mother to Maxine, who was adopted from Vietnam in 2006, and is the inspiration for The Red Thread column on adoption at The Washington Times Communities.   Andrea is currently at work on a book on international adoption.

In addition to her work as mother, writer and traveler, she is the founder and president of Media Branding International, a consulting firm that helps individuals and organizations craft and promote their image in media outlets around the globe.

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