New Jersey resident Danielle Gletow has made it her mission to alert the country to the needs of children in its foster care system. And starting in June, she’s taking her message on the road.
Founder of One Simple Wish, a non-profit that enables people to make small donations to fulfill the “simple wishes” of children in the foster care system, Gletow and her organization were thrust onto the national stage when she was nominated as one of CNN’s Hero’s in 2013. The group steps up its already non-stop advocacy during May’s National Foster Care Awareness month, educating people about the system and the kids, as well as how they can help outside of being foster parents.
Gletow, whose one daughter was adopted out of the system explains why building awareness is so important: “Foster care sounds like something that doesn’t impact the masses. It doesn’t get as much support or advocacy behind it because it isn’t a system that most of us will have to worry about our children being apart of. It makes it seem distant. We are trying to change that, to make people see that these are kids who are relying on all of us to be that family, to be that village who will help raise them.”
In June, Gletow and One Simple Wish will embark on the “Ultimate Wish Tour,” a six-week, 6,000-plus-mile cross-country tour to raise awareness for up to 100 kids eligible for adoption. “That’s about 1,000 kids right now who are legally free to be adopted but are not,” she says. “They are wards of the state.”
You can read the profiles of these kids on the Ultimate Wish Tour website. (I highly recommend it.) You can also make a donation/sponsor a child, help spread the word through social media, and find resources about fostering on the site. And once the tour is up-and-running, you can follow along with their blog.
“This tour is so personal to me,” Gletow says. “This time of year, gearing up for the trip, we work around the clock. You hear these kids’ stories—kids who have been in 25 placements, who have been in foster care for 11 years, kids who have been adopted and put back into foster care—and it will break your heart.”
She adds: “That’s our Ultimate Wish Tour—we’re really hoping to grant them their ultimate wish, which is to find a family.”