Susie Falk, who joined Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area in December 2019, helps make children’s wishes come true. A Bay Area native and parent, Susie discusses how she became interested in Make-A-Wish, the wish planning process, navigating the COVID-19 environment and meeting Steph Curry!
What initially drew you to want to join the Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area team?
I spent my entire career working in non-profit theater, which is one of my great passions, but I was ready for a new challenge. I became increasingly interested in working with an organization that had a different, more direct, impact. What Make-A-Wish does is so compelling – especially as a parent. And when I read the job description, I felt like the position was tailor made for me!
Can you describe the wish planning process?
Wish planning requires a unique mix of people skills, creativity, organization, resourcefulness, and incredible attention to detail. Some wishes are relatively straightforward whereas others might be very unique and complex. We always work to stretch our budget as far as it can go and are grateful for the generosity of so many vendors and contractors who help with donations and discounts. We need to be sensitive to the unique circumstances of the child and their family. Some wishes are planned very quickly, and some take months or even years to come to fruition. But with every wish, our hope is to provide delight, joy, and lasting memories.
How has that process changed since the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded?
Because so many of the children we work with are immunocompromised, we started conducting virtual visits even before the Shelter in Place orders, and as of now, 100 percent of our wish visits are taking place virtually. Many of the wishes we were working on have unfortunately been postponed, so wish planning has been even less of a straight line than usual.
What is your vision for wish granting in a post-COVID-19 environment? How do you see our chapter emerging from this challenge?
I think the next year or more is going to require a lot of resilience, patience, and resourcefulness. But we need only look to the kids we serve for inspiration – talk about resilient! As far as my team goes, we are trying to use this time to better position us for when we come out the other side of this crisis.
What’s been the most rewarding thing that has happened since you’ve been program director?
I helped escort a group of 30 wish kids from all around the world on their wish to meet Steph Curry. Seeing how humble and gracious he was with them, and how excited the kids were was wonderful to witness.
Make-A-Wish celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year – if you could grant one wish to the organization for the next 40 years, what would it be?
My wish would be that we never have to turn down an eligible child for a wish!