The name has changed, but the goal remains the same on P.E.I.
The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada announced Thursday that it is merging with Make-A-Wish Canada to form one wish-granting organization called Make-A-Wish Canada.
The P.E.I. chapter of the organization will still be run by Beth Corney Gauthier and her staff, and it will continue to proceed with its current caseload of granting 29 wishes to Island children, aged 3 to 17, who have a life-threatening illness.
While Corney Gauthier is normally the voice for the P.E.I. chapter, all media inquiries in this case were referred to the national office for the newly-merged organization.
“Nothing will change for our wish families and our wish children,’’ Michele Augert, the inaugural national board chairwoman of Make-A-Wish Canada, told The Guardian in a telephone interview. “If you are in the process of having a wish granted you will be dealing with the same great people. It will be the same as you expected it to be before.’’
Now that the two organizations are combined, the aim is to grant 25 per cent more wishes over the next five years and change more lives.
“In Charlottetown, Beth and her crew have great relationships already with your referral sources. We’re pretty confident that we have a good impact with people.’’
Up until now, the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada had been the longest-serving wish organization in the country with a grassroots reach into some of the smallest communities, especially in the east.
Make-A-Wish Canada was established in 1983 and has chapters from coast to coast, including Halifax, N.S.
Last year, Children’s Wish granted 1,100 wishes while Make-A-Wish did about half that.
Augert said the problem was both organizations were competing with one another.
“We were doing the same thing and had been competing for the same dollar (and) the same relationships in a lot of our fundraising areas, our wish-granting areas and in our relationships with our referral sources. A lot of times we were asked, ‘Why are there two of you’? This is not a merge that is looking for efficiencies and cutting back things. We’re looking at growing this.’’
She said while Children’s Wish has been around longer in Canada, it decided to merge under the Make-A-Wish banner because it’s such a big global brand. Make-A-Wish has chapters in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Augert said now they’ll be able to leverage relationships that Make-A-Wish International currently has in granting wishes.
“It’s so the right thing to do, (but) our magic happens on the ground; our magic happens in the chapters and where those wishes are granted, where those fundraisers happen.’’
Augert said some of the chapters in provinces that have multiple offices will be brought together, but it’s status quo for the P.E.I. office.
“I’m very familiar with what the P.E.I. chapter has done and the good people out there . . . it’s going to look just like it always did.’’