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Difference Maker

Danielle Gletow lends a helping hand to children in foster care

She started One Simple Wish in her home to help people grant 'wishes' to kids in foster care.

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Gletow's work has touched the lives of some of the children at PEI Kids, and Davidson says the impact of such gifts can be tremendous.

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One Simple Wish "will come in and provide that extra-special something for that child, whose needs and wants would not necessarily be met," she says. "They provide that extra-special wish for the child that does not always happen."

Life in the foster care system is full of ups and downs, Gletow says. Growing up in just one household throughout childhood is often only a dream. "There are children out there who don't have normal childhoods," she says. "Our child welfare system is broken, and it is leaving many children in devastating circumstances."

Those circumstances can be compounded when young adults "age out" of the system, she says. Many face unemployment and unsteady home environments and are left to take on the world all by themselves.

At first, Gletow was surprised by how little most people know about foster care.

"I realized how many other people out there would want to be involved if they knew, and they knew how," she says. The goal of her organization is not only to inform, but to help the would-be helpers take the next step.

"It is great to raise awareness, but it is better to raise awareness that sparks action," Gletow says.

For this mother of two, campaigning to brighten the lives of children and families in need quickly became a personal mission. When her new organization needed a financial investment, Gletow and her husband, Joe, pitched in with some of their own funds.

"It felt like the best money we ever spent," she says. "It makes so much sense to invest financially in something you are invested in emotionally. It felt like an investment in the kids."

Gletow also quit her high-paying marketing and advertising job to devote more time to the organization, as well as to her daughters, Mia and Lily, both 4.

Today, as founder and executive director of One Simple Wish, Gletow manages the daily aspects of the organization along with one employee, a handful of college interns, and scores of volunteers. The low overhead, she says, allows for most of the funds they raise to directly benefit clients.

Established in central New Jersey, One Simple Wish now has expanded its reach. In May, Gletow and a crew of volunteers hopped aboard an RV for a 30-day, 30-city trip across the country. At each stop along the way they granted wishes and held awareness events.

"It is so nice to know that people are embracing this way of giving, and that people are paying attention to this issue," she says. "It really does just make me proud."

Susan Dunning, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County Inc., in nearby Trenton, N.J., says Gletow's pride is well deserved. The mission of Ms. Dunning's organization has a great deal in common with One Simple Wish, she says, especially its goal of providing mentoring opportunities to children who need role models.

"We kind of work hand in hand," Dunning says. "We serve many of the same people in our community."

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