CHILDREN’S ISSUES: Make-A-Wish Foundation and Westchester Arc

On October 4, 2011 at 3:30pm, students gathered in       Gottesman Room to hear about the inspiring work of two organizations that diligently join forces to impact the lives of children around the world.  The first organization was the Make-A-Wish Foundation   represented by Mr. Abraham     Almanza, the Foundation’s Volunteer Manager.  He talked enthusiastically about the children Make-A-Wish has worked with in the past and the dedicated volunteers who are the true power behind the granted wishes of these unfortunate children.  Their mission statement, “We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy,” has reached out to over 250,000 children around the world and is now the world’s most prominent charity. 

In his conclusion, he told a story about a boy who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and wished to go on a Fourth of July cruise with his family. After his wish was granted, the boy lost touch with the foundation, but grew up and overcame his disease. Almanza explained that, shockingly, the boy was in fact himself thirty years ago. He not only gave the audience chills, but a sense of hope as he is now part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, helping others create their own triumphant stories.

The second organization of the event was the Arc of Westchester.  Mashal Gonzalez, explained that this agency provides more than 1,600 individuals throughout the county with a broad range of innovative and effective programs and services designed to foster independence, productivity, and participation in community life.  They believe that everyone should have the opportunity to work, regardless of a developmental disability.  The services offered include nutrition assessment; counseling; psychotherapy; vocational rehabilitation counseling; psychiatric, psychological and psychosocial evaluations; and speech and language, occupational and physical therapy. 

This family-focused agency offers opportunities to individuals with disabilities such as autistic spectrum disorders, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities.  It also supports the social inclusion of these individuals because of its benefits to the entire community. 

This heart touching event introduced ways for students to make a positive difference in the lives of others.