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Feature Articles

More Than One Simple Wish
Organization to grant wishes of children
in foster care continues to grow

By Kim Phagan-Hansel

In 2006 Danielle Gletow and her husband became foster parents. Wanting to help children who had been abused and neglected, the Gletows knew they could offer a good home to children.

“We felt this was an unmet need,” Gletow said. “We really wanted to give a child a good home.”

Just two weeks after welcoming a 3-day-old girl into their home (who would eventually become their daughter), the Gletows found out they were also pregnant. Balancing two young children was a challenge and the couple decided to concentrate on raising their young family. But the family wanted to continue being involved in foster care. With so much need, Gletow knew she needed to find a way to continue helping.

“I could see there were a lot of things kids were going without,” Gletow said. “There was this real hole in the system. I was trying to figure out what I could do to open the door for children.”

In 2008, Gletow launched One Simple Wish to help fill the void for kids in foster care. The organization was formed with the idea that it would grant wishes to children in care and brighten their life experience just a little.
One Simple Wish has grown and now includes two programs. The Ohana Project provides supplies to children as they enter foster care. Shampoo, conditioner, baby items and personal care kits provide children with a little comfort in their early days of foster care. The Ultimate Wish Program grants the wishes of children in foster care. To create a way for wishes to be granted for children, caseworkers reach out to Gletow to have the child on their caseload included in the program as Community Partners. Then, One Simple Wish shares the child’s wish on the website and to supporters to help grant each wish.

“We’ve granted 99 percent of every wish that’s ever been made,” Gletow said.

The program started out small in New Jersey, but news about the program quickly spread. When One Simple Wish was featured on NBC Nightly News during the 2012 holiday season, the organization just exploded. Thousands of people reached out to One Simple Wish to make donations to help children in foster care. Donations soared from $175,000 a year to $780,000 the next year.

“It really just propelled us in a whole new direction,” Gletow said. “We went from serving around 100 kids to 6,000 kids in a year.”

This year, One Simple Wish has granted more than 4,000 wishes from new Barbie dolls and dance lessons to new shoes and bikes. For Gletow, granting wishes has become a way she can help children feel a little less lonely and lost while in the foster care system.

“My children have everything they need,” Gletow said. “It’s heartbreaking when I see children deal with this difficult and heartbreaking system.”

For the last several years, Gletow has also taken One Simple Wish on the road every summer on its Ultimate Wish Tour. Traveling from New Jersey to California last year, Gletow was able to grant more wishes and spread the word about the organization even further. This year Gletow is taking a hiatus from the road tour to concentrate on the organization’s growth.

“It’s gotten a little too expensive and taken us away from the work too long,” Gletow said. “It’s important to us to continue to adapt our program to meet the needs of the children.”

For now, Gletow is concentrating on other areas of expansion. One Simple Wish launched a new website in May to make wish granting easier. The new site also allows the wish granter to post messages on the wish page to share thoughts with the child whose wish is being granted.

The organization is also rolling out a new program for kids aging out of foster care, called Milly’s Place. One Simple Wish received the donation of a two bedroom, two bath row house where two former foster youth will be able to live rent free and work for One Simple Wish through the new program.

“This property was gifted to us by Wells Fargo,” Gletow said. “It was a great fit for our scope. It fits nicely with the work we’re already doing and we can take it to the next level.”

Already with one former foster youth employed with One Simple Wish, Milly’s Place will provide a new opportunity for youth. Gletow said she hopes that the program will be something that One Simple Wish can grow over time.

In addition to helping foster children, One Simple Wish provides support to vulnerable youth and kinship caregivers.

“We’re not limited to just foster children,” Gletow said. “There are other ways we support others, not just children.”

Reaching out to more and more people, Gletow helps to impact all who are touched by the child welfare system. She continues to spread the word about the program to get and give more wishes and help more people.

“The ultimate goal for us is that every child that needs us knows we’re a resource,” Gletow said. “We have to just keep sharing our story.”

In November, One Simple Wish will launch a new campaign in partnership with the National Council on Adoption. For more information on the campaign and how you can get involved with One Simple Wish, visit https://www.onesimplewish.org.

Feature Article Archive

September/October 2015
Permanency for Children in Foster Care

July/August 2015
Reunification/Birth Family Connection

May/June 2015
National Foster Care Month

March/April 2015
Working with Agencies

January/February 2015
Mental Health

November/December 2014
The Foster Parent Calling

September/October 2014
Attachment & Trauma

July/August 2014
Parenting Teens

May/June 2014
Celebrating National Foster Care Month

March/April 2014
Working within the System

January/February 2014
The Dynamics of Working with Birth Parents and Kinship Caregivers

November/December 2013
Navigating Behavioral Issues with Children

September/October 2013
Back to School Parenting Guide

July/August 2013
Traditional Versus Therapeutic Foster Care

May/June 2013
National Foster Care Month

March/April 2013

January/February 2013
Kinship Care

November/December 2012
Understanding the Impact of Trauma and Abuse

September/October 2012
Nurturing Identity

July/August 2012
Working with Birth Families 

May/June 2012
Celebrating National
Foster Care Month:
Finding Support 

March/April 2012
Parenting Teens 

January/February 2012
Grief, Loss & Anger in Foster Care

November/December 2011
Promoting Better Communication Among the Foster Care Team 

July/August 2011
Discipline Techniques for Foster Parenting

May/June 2011
Celebrating National Foster Care Month

September/October 2011

March/April 2011
The Impact of Social Networking on Foster Care

January/February 2011
My Personal Foster Care Experience and What I've Learned

November/December 2010
Support Organizations Provide Assistance to Foster Families, Children

September/October 2010
The Importance of Keeping Siblings Connected in Foster Care

July/August 2010
Foster Care Health Care: Finding alternative therapies for healing 

May / June 2010
Celebrate National Foster Care Month and Foster Families Nationwide

March/April 2010
Kinship Care - The best interest for children or a foster care alternative?

January/February 2010
Emancipation or Family - Uncovering what's best for teens  

November/December 2009
Discovering What Foster Parents Really Need to Parent

July/August 2009
The Importance of Continuing Education for Foster Parents

May/June 2009
Celebrating National Foster Care Month

March/April 2009
Tips for Parenting Children into the Teen Years 

January/February 2009
Finding the Money Connection in Foster Care

November/December 2008
Looking Ahead at the Future of Foster Car

September/October 2008
Living the Daily Realities of Foster Care 

July/August 2008
Recognizing the Importance of Birth Parent Connection  

May/June 2008
Celebrate National Foster Care Month in May 

March/April 2008
Encouraging Foster Parents to Take Care of Themselves  

January/February 2008
Tips to Help Parents Tackle the Teenage Years

November/December 2007
Becoming the Best Parent for Children in Your Care

July/August 2007
Helping Children and Families Cope with Special Needs Issues

May / June 2007
The Power of Family

March / April 2007
Fostering Un
derstanding in Our Schools

January / February 2007
Finding Inner Peace in Parenting

November / December 2006
Are You My Family?

September / October 2006
Girl Scouts Beyond Bars

July / August 2006
Traditionally Speaking

May / June 2006
From Ward of the State to Defender of the Country

March / April 2006
Becoming Foster Parents

January / February 2006
Thank You, Foster Parents!

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