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 Make-A-Wish® New Jersey in valuable areas such as fundraising/special events, outreach or administration, you must be 18 years of age. To assist with wishes as a Wish granting 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 critical illnesses 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. Because of this, well-trained volunteers are needed to visit wish families, as well as assist with fundraising and outreach events in all twenty-one counties. The below listed opportunities utilize volunteer support throughout the state. 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 wish granter should first and foremost share our passion for bringing joy to the lives of children. Wish granting volunteers are involved in helping to grant the wishes of the many children with critical medical conditions who are referred to Make-A-Wish each year. The primary responsibility of the wish granting volunteers is to support 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 create a wish varies greatly based on the nature of the wish and the child’s current medical condition. Wish granting 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. Prior to the initial visit, volunteers will shop for a small “ice-breaker” gift for the child and their siblings as a way to assist with the introduction and build a relationship with the family. Volunteers are also asked to assist in “delivering” wishes when they are ready, such as bringing travel documents and reviewing all the details for a travel wish or taking the computer that the child has wished for to their home.
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. It is essential that when 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 Make-A-Wish New Jersey (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 critical illness.
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 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. Trainings will be approximately 3 hours in length being held during evening or weekend hours at the Samuel & Josephine Wishing Place. The first part of training are for those that wish to engage in Events support, Wishing Place opportunities or Outreach. The second part of the training will be specific to wish granting. For those that wish to engage in wish granting you will be required to stay for the duration of the training. We will provide an in-depth training on the different aspects of wish granting along with reviewing all of the paperwork that is required during an initial visit with the family. Upon completing the training, wish granting volunteers will be teamed with a more experienced “mentor” volunteer who will accompany them on several wish family visits to serve as a teacher and guide as they complete their wish granting training.
In order to remain a volunteer in good standing with Make-A-Wish® New Jersey, it is necessary for volunteers to be an active participant in Make-A-Wish New Jersey 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 it Wish Granting, Fundraising, Outreach or Administrative support.
How to Become a Volunteer
Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Make-A-Wish New Jersey. Volunteers are an important part of our team and we appreciate everyone who gives us the gift of their time.
Please note that due to COVID-19, our volunteer application process has been postponed until further notice. Prospective volunteers are encouraged to check our website periodically for updates on program reinstatement.