George Bogdewiecz, CEO
I discovered Wish of a Lifetime Foundation because . . . I was lucky. After many years leading for-profit businesses, volunteering and sitting on boards of directors, and serving as the Interim President/CEO of Goodwill Industries of Denver, a friend introduced me to Jeremy. He was a person who had a dream I could relate to and support.
I grew up in Bridgeville, PA, a small town southwest of Pittsburgh, with three sisters and a brother. I'm the second oldest. My parents were good, caring providers and parents. Both were children of immigrants from Poland. They taught us to work hard and "get good grades," but "Babcha" (Polish for Grandmother) was the real taskmaster. When my brother and I cut her grass we dared not leave a blade uncut because of poor trimming. Or when we washed the red-painted basement floor using only a sponge and bucket of soapy water, there better not be a cobweb missed under the utility sink. The 25¢ we received for these "big" jobs was the hardest we ever earned.
Reflecting back, I realize how those small lessons shaped my life: hard work is good. And that has been a guiding principle. In 1962, when I was a young boy, President John F. Kennedy said:
"Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
President Kennedy was speaking for generations of people who worked hard to create the America we live in. They fought wars for a better country and many died for us. They created a democracy and lifestyle they dreamed not for themselves, but for their children.
I am honored and privileged to be part of Wish of a Lifetime Foundation. Saying "thank you" to generations who have given us the America we live in is noble. Giving them the gift of a wish is priceless.
A Mission to "inspire an entire generation and to create a cultural shift on how we view aging," is an extraordinary goal, and it will be hard. But with our staff, volunteers, board members, donors, founder, and with you, we can do it.
Thank you for finding out more about us, and please join us on this remarkable journey.
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Tom Wagenlander, Associate Director
Everyone has dreams they wish to experience in their lives. Everyone can relate to the heartache of yearning for one simple or extraordinary thing that you fear may never come true. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve Wish of a Lifetime and to assist in fulfilling those wishes for which hope may have been lost.
Interacting with and assisting the senior's whose wishes we fulfill and the volunteers and staff who make those wishes come true is truly inspiring. I am also inspired by my grandparents whose experience as immigrants highlighted the hardships of the twentieth century.
They were separated by World War II, my Grandfather was fighting in Europe for his newly adopted country while my Grandmother and their young son were trapped in occupied China. They arrived in the United States and faced the racism and prejudice typical of the time. But amidst the many obstacles and difficulties, they sought above all to provide their family the love, support and education necessary to achieve a better life then their own.
So many of the seniors we serve sought only to make the world a better place for future generations. Fulfilling their wishes is a small token of appreciation for all they have sacrificed. Yet many times the wishes I see are not elaborate or complex but for something simple, such as a walk through the park or a night out with a spouse.
The simplicity of these wishes expresses the need and importance of WOL's goal to cause a generational shift in how our society views and treats seniors. I am honored to help in furthering this goal. I have attempted to support causes and issues I find meaningful throughout my professional life.
I have extensive experience working in the nonprofit sector having served as Deputy Director of Volunteers, for the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee, a bipartisan nonprofit organization created to plan and manage the Denver 2008 Democratic National Convention. I served as project manager for a consulting firm specializing in planning nonprofit events and worked closely with the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival and Denver Sister Cities International. I also possess experience in field organizing for local and national political campaigns.
I thank you for your interest in WOL and hope you will assist us in making sure our societies' senior population receives the appreciation and gratitude they deserve.
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Suzanne Halvorson, Manager of Donor Relations and Marketing
The first time I heard Jeremy speak about his mission, the purpose for creating Wish of a Lifetime, it bought me to tears. The tears came for many reasons. The realization that I had not taken the time to really honor and cherish my own grandparents, who had given me so much love and support during my upbringing. Also, that we, as a country, need to do more for our seniors. His words hit home for me. When I witnessed a senior's wish granted for the first time, I knew I found my passion.
I spent most of my 25 plus years in the corporate world working in the field of marketing for various financial institutions while raising two wonderful daughters as a single mom. There was always something going on, and while I always wanted to get involved in community outreach programs, not finding the time was my excuse. Deep down I knew, however, there are plenty of people who found the time while holding down two jobs, raising their family, and caring for their own parents. People who were much less fortunate then me and had much less personal time to dedicate.
I wanted a new career direction, one with meaning and purpose. Thanks to the wonderful support of my family I was able to work with WOL as an intern and now I have been given this amazing opportunity to help build this organization.
I feel honored to help grant deserving seniors their wish of a lifetime and create a cultural shift on how we view aging. I hope you will join me and be a part of something special.
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Sally Webster, Wish Fulfillment Supervisor
As a twenty-something coming into this organization, I had no real understanding of what it means to have a lifelong dream unfulfilled. The seniors I talk to now have deep passions - some that have taken a lifetime to cultivate, and others that have always taken a backseat to the immediacy and hardships of life. Our seniors' wishes are all the more poignant for the things that got in the way. Whether it's caring for sick family or community members, or simply working day in and day out for a lifetime to support a family, these seniors have sacrificed something of themselves. By helping fulfill their wishes, we thank them for their sacrifice and show them that they are valued.
My grandmother, Shirley Black, was a constant inspiration to me. She raised three strong daughters, and gave me opportunities growing up to become a more independent person. She cared for my grandfather in the later stages of his life, and though I'm sure those were incredibly heartbreaking and trying times for her, she persevered with humor and grace. She was exactly the kind of person that I strive to be, and I will always remember her as the living example of the phrase: you’re only as old as you feel.
I come to WOL having worked mostly with younger people. However, I did have one job which opened my eyes to some of the unique struggles of seniors. Working in post-Katrina New Orleans, I saw how the atmosphere after the storm disproportionately affected senior citizens. There were so many elderly homeowners we worked with who had been taken advantage of by insurance companies and fraudulent contractors. Many seniors had been robbed of tens of thousands in recovery money. I was saddened and angered at the situation these homeowners were put in. The disgraceful way that they were treated demonstrates the necessity of WOL's mission to create a cultural shift in the way we view aging.
I appreciate your interest in our mission to fulfill the wishes of those who have given so much of themselves.
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Nick Eaton, Wish Fulfillment Supervisor
I came to Wish of a Lifetime not entirely sure what to expect. I knew that the organization was dedicated to granting wishes to senior citizens, but not much else. It wasn't until my first day as an intern that I realized these weren't just wishes, but something more. They are life stories, dreams, and goals that many have been trying to pursue their entire life. It is a real pleasure to be able to come to work and get to know different seniors whose wishes have taught me that no matter how old you get, there is no reason to quit chasing your dream.
I come from a very close knit family and my grandparents are a key component to my family's structure. Since an early age my grandparents have always taught me to be polite, to have convictions, and to not let others stand in my way of accomplishing my goals. All of these traits have played a major role in shaping the person I am today. With every new task I take on, I try to demonstrate each of these traits to reach my full potential and be successful.
My previous work experience focused on a much younger demographic. Having worked for 4 years as a Director of Youth Programs with the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department I got to interact and give back to today's youth. I soon realized that many of these children would not be here today if it weren't for their grandparents and the lessons their grandparents have passed on through generations. To say thank you to not only my grandparents, but to all grandparents across the country, I jumped at the opportunity to join the WOL team full time. Not a day goes by where I don't stop and think about how a senior's story has affected my life. It is a real joy to be able to give back to a generation that has taught all of us so much.
Your interest in WOL is greatly appreciated and I hope you will help us continue our mission to help deserving seniors.
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Mandy McKnight, Bookkeeper/Financial Analyst
A quote by William James states, "The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it." The moment I read the mission of Wish of a Lifetime, I wanted get involved. It is rare to find a nonprofit that radiates such optimism, and leaves a lasting impression on the lives it touches.
The experience I acquired in my career with nonprofits has granted me a wonderful opportunity to be a part of WOL as Bookkeeper and Financial Analyst. I have worked in nonprofit accounting since 2005, and enjoy the detail and accuracy that is required by the position. I volunteer for several charity events annually, and enjoy working for organizations that align with my values and passions. The seven years I have dedicated to worthy causes is something I inherited by two influential people in my life…my grandparents. They were committed to supporting what they believed in by serving our country.
My granddad led a distinguished career as a three-star general in the United States army. His list of awards and decorations is extensive, and I was proud to attend a ceremony in 2008 when he was honored at West Point for Distinguished Graduate. Now in his eighties, he is Chairman and co-founder of the nonprofit Community Learning and Information Network, and is a board member for National Trust for the Wounded Warriors. In his spare time he is working to get his book published, and never misses an opportunity to play golf with other retired officers.
As the devoted wife of a general, my grandma facilitated moves to new homes when my granddad was sent to other countries, and raised two daughters independently when he was called to war. She was active in organizations for military wives, helped fundraise for military family college scholarships, and volunteered at the local thrift stores wherever they were stationed. She was always a gracious host to visitors, and was an avid bowler on the ladies team. To this day her wit, humor, and contagious laugh are gifts to those around her. She is currently learning to use an iPad2 to help my granddad clear out his cluttered email inbox, and is downloading apps for her own entertainment. They are celebrating their 60th anniversary in 2012, and their love for each other will always remind me of Nat King Cole’s song "Unforgettable."
The experience of growing up with such charismatic grandparents had a tremendous impact on the way I view older generations. I appreciate the wisdom that comes from life experience, and I am thrilled to work for an organization honors the lives of seniors. The energy of WOL is truly contagious, and I look forward to seeing wishes granted for many generations to come.
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Allison Eggert, Donor Relations Specialist
My grandparents have always been amazing volunteers, using their passions and hobbies to help those in need. Growing up around that kind of philanthropy instilled in me the idea that no matter what you have, you always have enough to give back and make someone's day.
I carried this mentality with me when I went to Colorado State University and joined a sorority that supported St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The more I learned about this amazing hospital the more I wanted to get involved. The summer before my senior year, I became an intern for the organization. The experiences from this opportunity made me realize how rewarding it is to make people happy every day. It was then I decided I wanted to work for a non-profit.
I am thrilled to have found Wish of a Lifetime and to be able to incorporate all the things I have a passion for while making dreams come true for others. Thank you for your interest in WOL. I hope that you too will have passion for our mission and help us in granting wishes for amazing seniors.
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Elizabeth (Lizzie) Phillips, Wish Fulfillment Specialist
Throughout my academic career, I kept one ideal in mind of eventually having the opportunity to work to bring joy and fulfillment into people's lives and give back to those that had given so much to me. This goal led me in many directions but I eventually settled on my hopes of working in the non-profit sector. As a recent graduate from The University of Iowa, I was privileged to come across Wish of a Lifetime, an organization that focuses on the values I have long treasured. Involvement in this organization has deepened my appreciation for the seniors in my own life and exemplified the importance of helping to the grant the dreams of the generation that laid the groundwork for today's world.
As a young child growing up in Minnesota, family relationships and get-togethers were an essential part of life. I always admired the way my grandmother was able to bring our family together and the sheer joy she experienced seeing her loved ones under one roof. As I grew up, I was inspired by the life she lived and her passion for giving back to her family and her community. Her selfless drive was focused around the importance of bringing the best to everyone in her life. Working with Wish of a Lifetime has introduced me to similar stories of seniors who have given so much throughout their lives.
The opportunity to hear the stories these seniors share and the wealth of knowledge they have obtained throughout their lives has furthered my passion to make the seniors I work with wishes come true. I am privileged to be part of this organization and work to give back much deserved dreams to a generation that has given me so much inspiration.
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Jeremy Garver, Wish Coordinator
Working for Wish of a Lifetime is truly an incredible honor. After graduating from Allegheny College in 2004, I spent most of my professional career in sales and found it quite unfulfilling. I decided to devote more of my time to volunteering and getting into the non-profit sector. Prior to taking the wish specialist position, I was teaching at a charter school for at-risk students and also tutoring students from low-income families.
Growing up in Cleveland, OH, I had a very close relationship with my grandparents. Simply put, they are amazing people! My grandmother passed away at age 94 but was active until the end. My grandma was one of those people that knew everybody (a local celebrity of sorts). She relished being active in the community and played in a canasta group every week, betting away pennies at a time with her friends.
My grandfather is 97 years old and equally as active as my grandmother was. I love hearing stories from my grandfather because at his age, he has been through it all. Not many people can claim to have run track against Jessie Owens... my grandpa did. When my grandpa isn't cooking food for his entire building he is out on the golf course with his best friend Ruby, who is 100 years old.
One of the missions of our organization states that "growing older doesn't mean you have to stop dreaming and living a life of purpose." I can't count the number of times I have heard somebody say "I'm too old for that." I can tell you that I have said that plenty of times and I'm only 29 years old. Aside from the amazing nature of the work I am involved in here, I hope I am able to communicate the message my grandparents have conveyed to me... Age is nothing but a number.
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Kaylan Greiman, Wish Fulfillment Specialist
I was very blessed to have been able to grow up with four grandparents who supported me, shepherded me, and encouraged me. They have helped shape who I have become, and each one of them has impacted me in a different way.
My late grandfather was one of the most important people in my life. He taught me countless life lessons, always reminded me to be true to myself, and most importantly, he encouraged me to walk in faith and lead a life of honesty and integrity. Gramps and I had a special bond from the beginning. He always claimed that out of all of his grandchildren, I was the only one who suffered from the same "fever" that he did - that "fever" being our shared love of agriculture and livestock. He fed my passion, and always had time to teach me anything I wanted to know. Being a lifelong farmer, he had a sense of pride and dignity, as well as an awareness that there are circumstances that we have no control over. He was tough as nails, and yet, filled with compassion. His family was the most important thing in his life, and he cherished every moment he had with them.
There is much to learn from our seniors, whether they were businessmen, factory workers, in the military, or farmers. They are a generation that has seen hard times, but they were never afraid of hard work, and they emerged with a great amount of wisdom. It's time that we give back to them, and let them know how much they are appreciated.
I graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Agricultural Business and Equine Science. After college, I quickly discovered that the corporate world was not for me. I wanted to interact more with others, so I went on to work at a non-profit youth summer camp as part of their equestrian staff. On a weekly basis I was able to see the difference we made in those kids' lives, and it was by far the most rewarding part of the job. After having that experience, I knew that I wanted to continue changing people's lives, regardless of their age. What better way to do that than fulfilling their wish of a lifetime?
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Brittany Polson, Wish Fulfillment Specialist
Born and raised in Colorado, I have always had the privilege of fulfilling my wishes that have arisen in life thus far. I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Bachelor's Degree in Operation Management, accompanied with an International Business Certificate. I am currently enrolled in Metropolitan State University of Denver for an Event Management Postgraduate Certificate.
I began volunteer work at a young age through my church. My eighth grade year, I traveled down to Mexico through "Casas Por Cristo" and built a house for a family. As we drove through the town to get to the location, I was almost in tears from the sight of houses being built from newspaper. After we had finished our mission, the appreciation that the family showed towards us has changed my life forever. I knew at this moment that I was meant to help other individuals overcome obstacles that they are faced with in life.
Since then, I have had the privilege to travel to over 20 countries including ones in South America, Central America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. I studied abroad for a semester in Sydney, Australia. I also had the opportunity to travel to China in 2008, and was struck by their culture. They show so much respect and love towards the elders in their society, and I felt that it was something that should be practiced among all cultures.
I came across Wish of a Lifetime Foundation, and instantly knew this was an organization I wanted to work for. This was due to the fact that they held many of the same values and morals which I have learned in my life. At a young age my grandparents spent most of their time watching my sister and I, while my mother obtained her bachelor's degree. I became very close to my grandparents and I am grateful for their hard work and dedication which they showed towards their family. I am still very close with my grandmother, and enjoy talking to her about past experiences and lessons she has learned along the way. This helped me realize that there are many things in life that seniors have not been able to accomplish due to various reasons.
I feel so privileged to be able to meet and grant wishes for these deserving seniors! I hope you will join us to further its purpose of a cultural shift; and creating joy and an appreciation for life no matter the age!
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Emily Hostetter, Wish Fulfillment Specialist
“The way we treat our children in the dawn of their lives and the way we treat our elderly in the twilight of their lives is the measure of the worth of a nation.” — Hubert Humphrey
Throughout my work in the non-profit sector, I have agreed with the sentiments expressed in the quote above and believe strongly in providing support in the tender stages of life for our most vulnerable citizens. I was lucky to have developed a connection with senior citizens from a young age because of my exceptionally close relationship with my grandparents, Henry Glenn and Myrl Hostetter. They were truly a part of the greatest generation; my grandfather served in the military his entire career and retired as a Colonel in the Unites States Air Force, and my grandmother raised their three rambunctious boys while keeping the family together by traveling with her husband around the world.
Throughout my college career I volunteered with seniors and after graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in psychology I worked for a short time with abused children, and then reconnected with my calling by continuing my work with seniors again. I became a coordinator for the Foster Grandparent Program through which I placed low-income seniors in educational facilities in need of their expert help. I also provided case management and advocated for the seniors while developing close relationships with them. During this time my supervisor saw Jeremy Bloom share Wish of a Lifetime’s goal on TV and became determined to partner our program with Wish of a Lifetime. Subsequently I witnessed the work that went into granting of the first several wishes to low-income seniors and the amazing impacts the granting of these wishes had on their quality of life. After leaving that position, I continued to volunteer with WOL’s Senior Board of Advisors to continue my association with the seniors, and many of the seniors on this board had experienced the life changing experience of having a wish granted. I feel blessed to be a part of WOL and look forward to continuing to learn from and laugh with the seniors for whom we grant wishes.
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Steven Glaser, Wish Fulfillment Specialist
After researching Wish of a Lifetime, I stopped by their booth at the spring Leeds School of Business career fair and was greeted by wish coordinator Nick Eaton. He shared with me his personal take on what the organization strives to accomplish and conveyed to me the true impact that they have seniors' lives. After speaking with Nick and learning more about the organization, I thought that volunteering for WOL would be a great way to gain valuable experience while doing work that is truly meaningful.
I was born in Tucson, Arizona, and recently graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Soon after starting my internship, in May 2012, I saw first-hand the extent to which WOL enriches senior citizens’ lives. Especially for those who have been through the hardest of times, the fulfillment of a lifetime wish can have impacts that are truly incredible, enduring, and permeate throughout many levels of society, with the spread of these inspirational stories of hope. I believe WOL has the potential to grow substantially and foster a cultural shift on how society views aging. I am proud to be a part of this organization, and to have the opportunity to contribute to the achievement of their mission.
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Natalie Sauls, Wish Fulfillment Specialist
I've recently just graduated from the University of Colorado, probably the fastest four years of my life. As an older sister, I am constantly relaying to my little brother all of the things he needs to do, to experience, before his college career has even begun. When I first heard about Wish of a Lifetime, I was instantly intrigued. These stories captured more than just wishes, but a lifetime of passions, adventures, and bravery.
This is what I admire most about this nonprofit organization, and it is what I miss most not being close to my grandparents, the stories. Growing up, occasionally I got to see my dad's side of the family, but distance has kept both sides of my families apart. I feel as though for the past twenty-two years, I've missed out on this amazing generation and their pearls of wisdom.
What I hope to gain from Wish of a Lifetime is the chance to share with younger generations and individuals who might not be so fortunate to be in their grandparent's presence, these hidden stories that embrace the essence of life. I hope to assure our older generations that they are appreciated and admired. And lastly, to be reminded daily, that we would not be where we are today, had it not been for them. Time flies.
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Jenna Schlueter, Wish Fulfillment Specialist
I have always been drawn to good causes and non-profits and Wish of a Lifetime seemed to fit that exact mold of my interest. I like the feeling of knowing the place I work in betters the life of individuals and the environment surrounding the organization. All throughout college I worked for Hudson Gardens & Event Center, a non-profit organization in Littleton, CO. The gardens always gave me a true appreciation for nature. It’s amazing how wandering around 30 acres of land can put a positive spin on your day. Along with that, in college I have had a lot of classes that entailed helping the unfortunate, as well as a breast cancer awareness event where we are able to donate the funds to a local hospital.
I currently go to school at the University of Wisconsin-Stout where I am majoring in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Mgmt and have the privilege to compete at the collegiate level and play D3 soccer. My freshman year in preseason, I tore my ACL and Mencius and just recently tore my MCL a second time. I always thought I was invincible and these injuries put into perspective that my whole life I have taken for grant my mobility. It amazes me how many wishes I work on and how many health problems each senior faces but still are continuing on with their days. The idea to be able to grant wishes to seniors who not only struggle with illness but other obstacles in their life inspires me. In a way, the seniors give me strength to realize that my own setbacks can be overcome more than my mind allows me to believe so.
The only senior that sort of has served as a grandma to me my whole life is a 4 foot vivacious, strict but loving woman named Rosie that was a nanny to me and my two brothers when we were little. She has helped shaped the two little boys I nanny for now (her daughter Angel sons) into well-mannered boys. It is an honor to work with such a great staff and intern at Wish of a Lifetime and grant wishes to seniors with such amazing backgrounds!
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Cailey Salagovic, Wish Fulfillment Specialist
My main experience with seniors comes from many years of singing with children's choirs and doing countless concerts at senior centers. To us kids, these 45 minute concerts were fun but not particularly special. To the seniors in the audience however, those were the best 45 minutes of their day. That is when I learned how something so small and simple could mean so much to a person. Now that I am starting my own life, I have wishes of my own. I have my whole life ahead of me to find time to drive a classic car down Route 66 or see a Galapagos tortoise. But life is nothing if not full of surprises, who knows if I’ll ever do those things. As someone with dreams of once-in-a-lifetime experiences I know what it means to have a wish of a lifetime. That is why the idea of helping other people live out their wishes, especially wishes that have spent years on the back burner while children grew up or to make time for volunteer work, or that were put out of reach by life’s twists and turns, is so exciting to me.
I happened upon Wish of a Lifetime's website while I was preparing for a job fair being held at the University of Denver. As I looked through the photos of happy seniors who had gotten their wishes granted and read their stories I was so touched I couldn't help but tear up a little. I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of making wishes like these come true. The next day, I went to the career fair with the sole intent of talking to Wish of a Lifetime. The rest, as they say, is history.
Working at Wish of a Lifetime gives me the opportunity to help others fulfill their own lifelong wishes which is a simply amazing experience. Plus, while granting these wishes I get talk to some extremely interesting people. Getting to know the seniors I work with and hearing about their lives is my favorite part of granting wishes. They always have such wonderful stories to tell and important knowledge to share. Being able to give something back to them after they have given so much to others is more rewarding than I can describe.
In the spring I will graduate from the University of Denver with a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music and minors in Psychology and Biology. In the future, I hope to integrate my love of music and science into a career in Music Therapy.
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