For Volunteer Leader Jerard Afable, every wish grant and opportunity to help – volunteering with Make-A-Wish – is a life-giving experience.
“I came from a family of medical practitioners. I planned to be a lawyer but I wanted to share in my family’s passion [of] helping patients recover. But it’s a different angle because, with Make-A-Wish, I can invest in supporting the psychosocial recovery of a child,” says Jerard.
Since joining in 2018, he has been one of MAWPH’s most dedicated volunteers. From starting as a Newbie Genie to growing as a Volunteer Leader and event photographer – Jerard has brought cheer and joy to the wish kids and fellow volunteers who look up to him. “My Saturdays and Sundays were dedicated to Make-A-Wish!,” Jerard says with a big smile.
One of his most memorable volunteering experiences was when the foundation granted MJ’s wish to be a pilot. Jerard was the event photographer and the Volunteer Leader in charge of the 3,000th Wish Milestone for Make-A-Wish Philippines. As part of the Wish Journey, he went with MJ to visit local airlines, tour different planes, and operate a simulator.
The dedicated volunteer also witnessed MJ become a co-pilot of a private plane. Jerard recounts how overwhelming it felt sharing MJ’s day, noting, “rooted in that feeling of being overwhelmed is joy, that I am part of something like this. As long as it was impactful and special for one wish kid, we would go to the extremes to make that happen for them.”
“When a child’s wish is granted, it is their time, their happiest and most fulfilling moment of their life. I love the feeling of being able to share that with them, to soak it up and use it to carry us forward to the next wish grant. The work may either be easy or difficult, but it’s all life-giving. Bask in the amazing feeling it is to be a part of the special moments, these once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” the charitable volunteer advised.
Volunteering for Make-A-Wish
Growth and leadership are among the key elements to Jerard’s volunteering experience. Though he started out feeling worried as a novice photographer, he looks back fondly at his journey – from seeing his work being shared on social media, to receiving mentorship from staff and co-volunteers. Jerard shares that he eventually grew comfortable in this role and was able to hone his skills through the wish events.
Whether it was working with high school volunteers to make party decorations or with cosplayers in superhero costumes, Jerard sees it as “nice that everyone’s able to innovate and bring something unique to the table. I never fail to learn something new from everyone. So it’s that sense of learning from one another that also makes me want to stay kasi alam kong palaging may mangyayaring bago, laging may makikilalang bago at palaging may madadala both in the organization and also to me.”
Jerard says that MAWPH also guided him in managing wish-granting administrative duties. Although it was challenging at first to take on bigger responsibilities such as tracking fundraising and expenses, he realized that by understanding the different aspects of the organization, he could also help other volunteers learn and grow as he did.
Volunteering During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Today, with the COVID-19 pandemic still one of the challenges to wish-granting, volunteers like Jerard are learning to adapt to virtual wish grants and fundraising activities. He admits that though it has been more testing, he continues to be engaged in volunteering because he believes in the power of a wish.“ It’s the genuine connections and community building that goes on even if we’re not meeting face to face that keeps me going. I still share a bond with my fellow volunteers from everywhere. We have such solidarity and companionship because of coming together for a common goal. [Volunteering in the thick of] COVID, I didn’t enter for the event. I didn’t enter to do logistics or to take photos but for the community, for the advocacy,” affirms Jerard.
The Volunteer Leader shares what he thinks makes the Make-A-Wish community remarkable: “We come from different backgrounds. And it’s just very interesting to see how everything comes together and how everyone works together in very, very different yet harmonious ways. I think the biggest impact really that Make-A-Wish did for me – more than event organization, more than project management, more than org dev and even photography – would really be the value of pakikisama, being able to bond with everyone. Our volunteers do come from everywhere – we have high school students, college students, young professionals, adults, and everyone is just bound by that same passion, that same purpose, that same love for the advocacy [of the organization.] It’s that solidarity and that companionship that taught me this is something that we should work towards not only in Make-A-Wish but also in every other aspect, that we can always come together as long as there is a sense of solidarity and passion for a common goal. That’s something that I will forever treasure that I learned from Make-A-Wish.”
Volunteers are critical to the success of our wish-granting efforts. Through volunteers, donors, and partners, Make-A-Wish Philippines can create life-changing wish experiences for children with critical illnesses.