“We have plenty of wishes available, and when I tell people that, they are just flabbergasted,” said Chapman of the organization that grants wishes to seniors with life-threatening or terminal illness. “But we’re here. Call us.”
Since 2000, Contra Costa County residents have called the foundation requesting wishes in the form of visits with loved ones, outings to professional baseball or football games, afternoons fishing on the Delta and even the gift of free long-distance phone calling.
“What’s interesting about the wishes,” said Chapman, “is that they are small in nature but so large in the hearts of the people we give them to. We’ve been doing this for 10 years and it’s a really wonderful thing.”
Just last month, Elderly Wish celebrated its 99th and 100th wishes. The first was presented to a Brentwood man whose final wish was to visit his older sister in Florida. At press time, the 80-year-old man and his wife were on their way back from the weeklong visit.
Wish number 100 was granted to a Central County man whose heart’s desire was to obtain a free pass to see the impressionist exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. When the museum heard about his simple wish, they took the gift one step further.
“This gentleman wanted to be able to go to the de Young a number of times, so we purchased him a membership,” said Chapman. “But then the museum offered to open the museum on a day that it was closed to the public so he and a guest could have the museum to themselves. He was overcome with gratitude.”
Making wishes come true is something the Elderly Wish Foundation has perfected since it was founded by Rebecca Crowder in 2000 following the loss her mother. For over a decade, the nonprofit organization has continued to visit local social groups and organizations, getting the word out about the program and encouraging family, caregivers, doctors and social workers to call the foundation with a referral.
“I think part of the reason we’re having trouble getting wishes is that most of the individuals are in their 80s and always feel that someone else is so much more worthy,” said Chapman. “But we believe that everyone deserves a wish, and when I meet them and see the smiles, the tears, the laughter and the love, it reminds me all over again why we do what we do. It’s very rewarding.”
Funded through the United Way plus individual and corporate donations, the organization holds one large fundraiser a year: the Heart to Heart Ball, scheduled this year for Feb. 19 at the Lone Tree Golf Clubhouse, 4800 Golf Course Road in Antioch.
To participate in the Elderly Wish program, seniors must be 60 years or older, live in Contra Costa County and have a life-threatening or terminal illness that can be documented by a doctor.
For donations of sponsorships, services or for additional information, call 925-978-1883, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.elderlywish.org.