As we come together with family and friends to celebrate and show gratitude for all of our blessings, it seems an appropriate time to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. Earlier this fall, we launched our Give Hope Decor line in partnership with One Simple Wish, an organization created to empower more people to support children who’ve been victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment. This organization is so important to me because I was adopted and so was my sister. My mom (the one that raised me) was also adopted. After spending two years in an orphanage, mom was fortunate to have a caring social worker who eventually decided to adopt her and became her father. I feel very blessed that my birth parents cared enough about my welfare to give me the best life possible by giving me up for adoption. I am sure that was a very difficult decision. I was lucky. So many children are not. According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data, in 2014, over 400,000 children in the US were in foster care. These kids often enter foster care, with only the clothes on their back, often due to quickly being pulled out of an abusive situation. That’s why One Simple Wish is so important. They grant needs and wishes of foster kids around the country every day.
Danielle Gletow is the Founder & Executive Director of One Simple Wish. The Gletows (Danielle and her husband, Joe) journey into foster care began when an 18 month-old little boy nervously entered their home wearing a coat two sizes too big after being removed abruptly from his abusive home. Over the next two years they learned so much more about the children living in the foster care system, the resources they were going without, the lack of awareness in the general public and the support these children desperately needed and deserved. They knew they had to do more for children in foster care and vowed to commit their lives to doing it and One Simple Wish was born in 2008.
Danielle has been a passionate advocate for children’s rights for nearly two decades. Danielle is the Founder & Executive Director of One Simple Wish, an organization that empowers everyone to make a direct and meaningful difference in the lives of foster children and at-risk youth, one simple wish at a time. Danielle has appeared on numerous television and radio shows including CNN, NBC Nightly News, The Katie Couric Show and The Nate Berkus Show and has been featured in many print publications including The Star Ledger, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post and Woman’s World, among others. In October 2013, Danielle was chosen as a Top 10 CNN Hero, among tens of thousands of nominees worldwide.
Danielle is a blogger for The Huffington Post and frequently speaks at schools, universities and businesses sharing her journey into the world of foster care and her bold move of leaving a lucrative career in marketing to follow her passion.
Danielle currently resides in Central NJ with her husband, Joe, their two amazing daughters, Mia and Lily, and their two beloved dogs Duncan and Alice.
I spoke with Danielle so that she could share more insight about her organization and foster parenting.
KD: What has been the biggest Challenge One Simple Wish has faced and how did you overcome it?
DG: Its hard to answer that because even though there have been challenges I think we’ve been very fortunate that our mission has been so well received and supported. However raising money for operating expenses continues to be somewhat of a challenge. We do a wonderful job raising enough to grant every wish we receive but it can be very difficult to get people to give to the mission itself…that is why support like you are providing is so important and helpful to us!
KD: As a former foster parent, what advice do you have for those fostering (or considering foster) children?
DG: I think more good people need to foster and I would say go for it. But I’d also say, be prepared. Fostering is a wonderful gift to both the adults and children but it can be difficult. The system can be confusing and the process can be long and sometimes not go as you would like. And I think that no matter how prepared you think you are it still hurts every time you have to say goodbye to a child.
KD: What are some of the most common wishes that One Simple Wish grants?
DG: One of the most beautiful things about One Simple Wish is that no wish is really common. Every child’s story is unique and special. But there are certainly a few items that we get a lot of requests for just because they are popular things that all kids want: new sneakers, laptops, gaming systems, gift cards to go clothes shopping, bikes.
KD: In addition to fulfilling wishes on the One Simple Wish website, what other ways can people get involved?
DG: We love when people make I Wish For You cards for our kids. They can find out more at www.onesimplewish.org/iwishforyou
. And of course, spreading the word to others is a huge help!
KD: Where would you like to see One Simple Wish in five years?
DG: I would like to see One Simple Wish granting wishes in all 50 states and filling every single one of them in under 3 months!
KD: On a personal note…any favorite family holiday traditions that you would like to share with us?
DG: First of all, I LOVE this time of year. My husband and I host Thanksgiving and its one of our favorite things to do now that we have a home big enough to fit my whole family. My mom and my sisters and I all make something and my husband handles the turkey. It’s a huge feast and its awesome. We also spend Christmas Eve at my father-in-law’s house and pretty much have a full celebration there which is awesome for the kids. It’s like they get two Christmas’s!
Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!