Wishes can come true at any age.
Charla Wright heads the nascent local chapter of the national 501(c)3 nonprofit Twilight Wish Foundation, an organization dedicated to granting the wishes of senior citizens.
Wishes are granted to individuals 65 or older who are permanent residents of a nursing facility or living on an income of less that 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
The local chapter is the newest in the nation for the nonprofit, which was founded in 2003 and has granted more than 4,717 wishes so far, according to their website, twilightwish.org.
The website details many of those wishes with stories and photos, stating, “Every wish we grant is helping to build a culture that values and respects our senior population.”
“Many of the wishes we grant are for basic necessities such as lift chairs, hearing aids, accessibility ramps or new appliances. These wishes improve the quality of life for those seniors. Often making the difference in whether or not a senior can continue living independently,” said Mary E. Farrell, director of community relations at the Twilight Wish Foundation, where she started as a volunteer in 2007.
“Wishes such as a ride in a hot air balloon or meeting a favorite baseball player may not directly improve the quality of life for those seniors, but knowing that someone cares and acknowledges all they have done throughout their lives is often just as impactful.”
Said Farrell, “I think seeing a wish granted in person, seeing the joy it brings to them really makes you aware that simple gestures often have the greatest impact.”
Wright volunteers her time leading the 20th chapter, with two other volunteers. They are in search of their first wish.
“I know the wishes are out there,” said Wright in a recent interview. She listed some examples of potential wishes: tickets to a Christmas show, a water heater, a shed for the backyard, a new wig, dogs groomed and/or vaccinated or attending a favorite sports game.
Wishes vary in cost and preparation, she said.
“The volunteers would be the ones that would be doing the legwork, making sure we connect the dots,” Wright said.
Because wishes vary so much it is hard to predict what resources will need to be utilized for each, which makes community connections important.
‘Asset to the community’
Wright is equipped for the challenge. A Sequim resident since 2011, she has worked as a senior account executive for Assured Hospice of Clallam and Jefferson Counties for more than five years. Prior to that, she was Social Service Director at Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation of Sequim.
Wright serves on the NHPCO Palliative Care Council, is a Clallam County Advisory Council member for the Olympic Area on Aging, serves on the executive board for the Olympic Medical Center Foundation, and is a Past President of the Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce.
Farrell said Wright is a wonderful person who “is very passionate about helping seniors.”
“Charla is such an asset to the community,” said Mary Coupland, owner and founder of Compass and Clock (compassandclock.com), a periodical and website that offers advice for people as they age, to which Wright contributes articles.
“She’s a very special human being and I can’t say enough good things about her.”
When Wright heard about Twilight Wish from a sister-organization in Colorado, “I loved the idea,” she said.
“You get to do a wish for someone and you get to see a smile on their face, see their emotion. It’s just a different experience (from helping the dying),” Wright said.
The local chapter was made possible with the support of founding partners Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation and Discovery Memory Care of Sequim and Park View Villas of Port Angeles.
“We are always looking for more sponsors who would like to donate,” said Wright. “Individuals can donate, too. Donations can be large or small — anything helps.” (To donate, contact Wright at email@example.com)
As the wishes come in, the need for more volunteers will grow. Examples of ways to volunteer, Wright said, include facilitating behind-the-scenes wish details, finding donators, teaching and volunteering for an eventual fundraising event.
For more information about volunteering, contact Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org; to apply, visit twilightwish.org.
“My passion is finding all the services each of my seniors deserve and need so that they are able to age in place, surrounded by their loved ones, families and memories,” Wright said in a press release.
“I look forward to bringing that passion to granting wishes for seniors in need.”