If you’ve been reading “Holdin’ Out for a Hero” for any length of time, chances are you have come across a reference to the non-profit organization New Hope for Kids. Indeed, they have become an integral part of my life. This is the organization that granted me my wish of meeting Bill Hemmer six years ago. In short, they are responsible for the friendship that has developed over time.
Now, I also get to volunteer with New Hope at their many events. In fact, I’m speaking at a volunteer appreciation dinner tomorrow evening! I certainly have experiences to share from both the “wish kid” side and the “volunteer” side. But here’s a little bit more objective information you might not know about this wonderful organization.
New Hope for Kids was established in 1996 to address the emotional needs of children in Central Florida. According to their official Web site, their purpose “is to bring hope, healing and happiness to children and families suffering from grief, loss or life-threatening illness.”
They do this via two programs– their Grief Program, and their Wish Program. The Grief Program provides emotional support to families who have experienced the loss of a loved one. New Hope offers these kids and their families a place to vent their frustrations, their sadness, their anger, and also a place to connect and bond with other children and families who are experiencing a similar loss.
The Wish Program is designed to give children with chronic, life-threatening conditions an opportunity which they might not otherwise have. For some, it’s a much-needed family vacation to Disney. For others, it’s a good-quality computer for schoolwork. The people I have met through New Hope have ranged from having very mild conditions to severely impairing conditions. It has really taught me a lot about not taking life for granted.
The children and families aren’t the only people I’ve had the privilege of meeting at New Hope events. I love volunteering at their fundraisers, where I often have the opportunity to meet community leaders and personally thank them for their contributions. I’m always amazed at the different reactions I get from people who don’t expect a “Wish Kid” to be volunteering at a gala! Most people are usually very gracious and they seem inspired by my gratitude toward them. I hope that just my presence at tomorrow’s event will remind people that success stories are possible even if you have a life-threatening illness or a physical challenge.
Oh, I’m not saying this to boast. I genuinely believe that my life is a success, but not only because of me, but also because of the remarkable people who surround me day in and day out, and who continually lift me up.
People like the friends I’ve made at New Hope for Kids. 🙂