In December of 2012, we featured entrepreneur Danielle Gletow of One Simple Wish — an organization that grants wishes for children in the foster care system — through our 1,000 Stories initiative.
When we caught up with her recently, she said business has been “extraordinary.” One Simple Wish has granted over 10,000 wishes for children — ranging from Nintendo games and laptops, to gymnastics classes and movie tickets — since its inception in 2008. Also, Gletow was featured on both NBC Nightly News and CNN’s Heroes list.
Additionally, the size of the organization has expanded, both in numbers (with 10 staff members at present) and reach. “We are now working with kids in 47 states and Washington, D.C. We serve about 30,000 kids per year through wish granting and other various programs,” Gletow says.
Those various programs include the organization’s Wish to Work, Onaha Project and Project Prom offerings, which are designed help older or abused children. Says Gletow, “Wish granting is still the core initiative, and out of that grew other ideas for ways to help kids.”
One Simple Wish has even helped kids in the foster system realize their ultimate dream — finding a family.
This past summer, Gletow and others went on a 7,000-mile road trip she referred to as the Ultimate Wish Tour. Organization representatives spoke on-camera with children who were legally free for adoption, then used the footage taken to create a documentary.
“We met with 65 children on the tour and, so far, there have been 17 matches since the tour — at least 12 [matches] as a direct result of our efforts,” she says. “There were over 100 adoption inquiries and over 50 wishes and other support pledged to the kids.”
Partnerships have played an important role in the development of One Simple Wish. “We’ve received half a million in donations of products from a variety of partners,” she said, naming Hasbro as a frequent benefactor. “It’s really amazing, and a great way for us to spread the program and give kids something fun immediately.”
And the efforts of One Simple Wish are funded in part by relationships with corporations such as Wells Fargo and Volkswagen, as well as other supportive foundations. But, Gletow says, “we have a really impressive individual donor base [of thousands of individuals] that contributes the vast majority of our funding.”
Going forward, Gletow wants to be a “catalyst for change within the system” — the very system that led her and her husband, Joe, to their own foster child in 2006. She also hopes to expand the offerings of One Simple Wish so it can one day grant wishes for children in every single state.
Her entrepreneurial journey has been difficult — as she says, “being an entrepreneur is not for the lazy” — and has involved a great deal of sacrifice. But through the help of mentors and experienced business owners, Gletow is confident she has found her purpose.
“Despite the crazy … pace, the amount of work, I haven’t ever felt this fulfilled or ‘right’ in my life. This is where I’m supposed to be,” she says.