Being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease can turn a person’s world upside down and often offers a new perspective and desire to see a loved one’s face, or to take a long-dreamed-of trip. For adults over 50 in Contra Costa County, An Elderly Wish Foundation (EWF) is there to help make those dreams come true.
“We like to grant a wish to basically bring a little joy and a smile,” said founding member Mary Chapman. “The tears of joy that we get from the families are so amazing. We have done everything from giving a TV to someone who finds out they were going to be bedridden, to providing a new mattress to a lady who had really bad arthritis.”
Since 2000, the group has granted 195 wishes of all shapes and sizes. Penni Mills of Pittsburg is the group’s latest recipient. A cancer diagnosis left her with limited time and one wish: to see her son get married in Ohio. A friend referred Mills to EWF, and the group flew her to Ohio earlier this week for her son’s wedding.
“I think the foundation is wonderful,” Mills said in a phone interview from her destination. “Without them, I would not have been able to come out to Ohio, because cancer treatment is quite expensive. I got to meet my step-granddaughter and my soon-to-be daughter-in-law’s parents, and I get to see my son get married.”
EWF is supported through generous donations and their two yearly fundraisers: a gala in February and a raffle in October. This year, their raffle will be held Oct. 10 at TreVista in Antioch, and board members are already selling tickets.
“We only sell 100 tickets at $100 each,” Chapman said. “I like to joke that the odds are better than the lottery. People can split (the cost) with a friend. At the drawing, there will be wine donated by Oak Ridge Winery and appetizers provided by TreVista. People love the excitement of the drawing.”
Chapman added that she sees the foundation as a ministry and relishes the short moments of joy she can bring to families amid their struggles.
Sharon Pappas has also been part of EWF since its inception. With a background in geriatric health care, managing cases for the foundation felt like a natural next step. She, too, enjoys bringing a smile to another’s face.
“During a time of someone’s life that is so potentially sad, this is one moment that you can focus on something that you would like to do, to make some memories to have and keep and remember, for when the end might really come,” Pappas said of her time with the charity. “We are so happy to be able to complete the wishes we have, and that’s what has always been my motivation.”
EWF’s 5th Annual Fund-a-Wish Drawing will take place on Thursday, Oct. 10, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at TreVista Antioch, 3950 Lone Tree Way. Refreshments will be served, and winners need not be present to win. Only 100 tickets will be sold at $100 each. For more information, to purchase tickets or to donate, call 925-978-1883, visit elderlywish.org or email email@example.com.