An Experience Unlike any Other
Volunteering with Make-A-Wish New Jersey will likely become one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. And your efforts will be rewarded, not with dollars and cents, but with something incredibly more valuable - smiles, hugs, laughter and the remarkable high that comes from having made a tangible difference in the life of a child.
Who Can Volunteer?
Our volunteers come from all walks of life, including young professionals, corporate managers and executives, stay-at-home moms and dads, retirees and college students. To volunteer with the Foundation in valuable areas such as fundraising/special events, outreach or administration, you must be 18 years of age. To assist with wishes as a Wishgranting volunteer, you must be at least 21 years old. Elementary, high school and college aged students can get involved through our Kids for Wish Kids® and Wishmakers on Campus programs. These are programs for schools throughout New Jersey that give students the opportunity to sponsor wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions while encouraging community service and promoting leadership.
Volunteer Opportunities Throughout the State of New Jersey
Make-A-Wish New Jersey is the only chapter located in the state of New Jersey. Because of this, well-trained volunteers are needed to visit wish families and assist with fundraising and outreach events in all twenty-one counties. The following opportunities utilize volunteer support throughout the state and volunteers interested in becoming involved in these areas should be willing to drive to various locations and have reliable transportation to do so.
Anyone who volunteers as a Wishgranter should first and foremost share our passion for bringing joy to the lives of children. Wishgranting volunteers are involved in helping to grant the wishes of the many children with life-threatening medical conditions who are referred to Make-A-Wish each year. The primary responsibility of the Wishgranting volunteers is to lead wish children and their families on a wonderful journey to help make the child’s wish come true. Volunteers are assigned in teams of two to visit a wish child and his/her family in their home, hospital room or at the Samuel and Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place, more fondly known as “the castle.” At the castle, wish children and their families will be taken on a magical, interactive journey to determine the child’s fondest wish.
There are two reasons for the visit: (1) to ask the child the magical question “if you had one wish, what would it be?” (2) to engage the family in completing the necessary paperwork to make the child’s wish come true
The time required to grant a wish varies greatly based on the nature of the wish and the child’s current medical condition. Wishgranting volunteers will spend time scheduling an initial visit, visiting the family, and keeping in contact with that family on a monthly basis until wish completion and the delivery of the wish. Regardless of the type of wish, volunteers will shop for a small “ice-breaker” gift for the child and their siblings prior to the initial family visit as a way to build a relationship with the family. Volunteers are also asked to assist in “delivering” wishes when they are ready, such as bringing travel documents for a travel wish or taking a computer or puppy the child wished for. One of the areas our volunteers enjoy most is being able to use their imagination to help enhance the wish delivery and make it the most memorable experience a child can dream of. “Enhancement” gifts could be a gaming chair for a game system wish, a beach care package for a cruise wish, or a Disney themed scrapbook for a Disney World wish.
In addition to visiting with the wish family to determine the child’s wish, there may on occasion be an opportunity for a volunteer to participate with the child and his/her family on wish day. Volunteers may accompany a child on a shopping spree to their favorite retail outlet, participate in a room makeover wish, or escort a family to a celebrity meet and greet as a representative of Make-A-Wish. These opportunities and others are part of the rewarding aspects of being a Make-A-Wish volunteer, but before a volunteer decides to participate in a wish, they must ensure their schedule allows them to grant the wish to its fullest.
We have many events during the course of the year that benefit the Foundation and none of them would be successful without volunteer support. Some of the events are planned and executed by the Foundation itself, such as Walk for Wishes events, a Gala, food tasting events and others. In addition, there are many events that take place throughout the state that are planned by third parties who have named the Foundation as the beneficiary of their efforts. The organizers of these events also request volunteers support to make their fundraisers as successful as possible. Assistance can come in the form of monitoring an auction, selling raffle tickets, registering guests, or staffing an information table.
Time commitment for fundraising events varies depending on the type of event and the responsibilities held by the volunteer, but typically range from a couple of hours to half a day.
Volunteers can also organize and execute their own events. For more information on organizing your own event, click here.
Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place (”Castle”) Volunteers:
Hospitality volunteers will act as “the face” of Make-A-Wish New Jersey for those that visit the Samuel and Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place. Volunteers must be knowledgeable about the mission of MAWNJ (training will be provided), have excellent customer service skills, communicate effectively and be reliable. Specific responsibilities of hospitality volunteers include the positions of:
- Reception- to schedule and keep a master calendar of tours taking place, answer questions from visitors, maintain a list of volunteer interests and field phone calls, give tours of the Wishing Place if necessary.
- Tour guide- give tours of the Wishing Place to scheduled groups or individuals who want more information about what takes place at the “castle.”
Hospitality volunteers will be asked to be available for several hours during business hours Monday-Friday, with possible evenings and weekend availability as well.
As a Foundation it is very important that we spread the word throughout the Garden State about the mission of Make-A-Wish, how a child qualifies for a wish, and how one can refer a child to have his/her fondest wish granted. Our staff and volunteers attend health fairs, health-related conferences, and speak on our behalf to organizations who may be working with children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition.
As with other types of volunteering, the time required to assist with outreach varies as well and depend on the responsibilities associated with the efforts. Typical assignments range from staffing an information table for a few hours to attending a health-related conference for a full day.
WHY DO I NEED A BACKGROUND CHECK?
Due to the nature of our work, ALL volunteer positions must successfully complete a criminal background check every 3 years. Make-A-Wish does not employ or utilize as a volunteer any individual who has been convicted of a crime that (a) victimizes children, (b) is sexual in nature, or (c) involves violence, fraud, or significant theft. Please contact us with any questions related to past convictions and/or our background check screening process.
Once all paperwork is submitted you will receive a notification from Lexis Nexis to complete your check. You will be asked to submit an online payment of $27.99.
Before you can experience the joy that comes from helping make a child’s fondest wish come true, you will be required to attend a volunteer training session. Typically held on a Saturday every other month at varying locations throughout the state. The first two hours of training are for those that wish to engage in events support, Wishing Place opportunities or outreach. After the first two hours if you do not wish to engage in wishgranting volunteering you may leave and be considered a trained volunteer. For those that wish to engage in wishgranting you will stay and get an in-depth training on the MAW paperwork. Upon completing the training, Wishgranting volunteers will be teamed with a more experienced “mentor” volunteer who will accompany them on several wish family visits and serve as a teacher and guide as they complete their Wishgranting training.
In order to remain a volunteer in good standing with Make-A-Wish, it is necessary for volunteers to be an active participant in Make-A-Wish activities. Active volunteers must commit to attending one mandatory continuing education training session annually, in addition to participating in two Make-A-Wish related activities per year- be they Wishgranting, Fundraising, Outreach or Administrative support.
How to Become a Volunteer
We hope you are excited to join us in bringing a little magic to the lives of children facing life-threatening illnesses. You will find it is a rewarding journey unlike any other and we are excited to have you as part of our team.
Step 1 - Download the application and reference forms.
Step 2 - Complete the four-page application and three reference checks and return them to the Make-A-Wish office located at 1347 Perrineville Road, Monroe Twp, NJ 08831.
Step 3 - Once that is received you will be e-mailed instructions to complete your background check yourself with Lexis Nexis. At that time Lexis Nexis will ask you to pay for your background check by credit card, for $27.99.
Step 4 - Once your background check has been run, you will be contacted to discuss the status of your volunteer application and receive upcoming basic training dates and locations.
To download the necessary forms, click here for an application, and here for the reference check form.
For more information on becoming a volunteer please call 609-371-WISH (9474).