Danielle Gletow might be the most famous foster parent of all time.
16 years ago she became a foster mom, saying, “I wanted to be a mother to all these kids who might not feel like they have one.”
Within a year she adopted one of the children, a two-year old baby girl. During the adoption, she found out she was pregnant—but instead of funneling her energy solely to her own family, she continued fueling her passion to help the kids in need.
She set up a nonprofit, One Simple Wish, to galvanize donations from others like her, who want to make an impact and bring joy to foster youth.
“I realized, early on, that a lot of these children decide it’s not worth wishing anymore, because it isn’t going to happen.”
Incredibly, over the next 15 years, One Simple Wish collected over $15 million to grant requests for over a quarter-million kids and young adults impacted by foster care. Wishes range from laptops and sports equipment to art supplies and music lessons—even travel expenses for an aspiring model to fulfill her dreams at New York Fashion Week.
Now, to mark National Adoption Month, Gletow and her team gave nine new cars to deserving adults who, in their youth, were impacted by the child welfare system.
They flew all the winners to New York City under the guise of ‘a foster care conference’ just so they could surprise each one with keys to a new car—along with a year’s worth of insurance and gas.
“We realized that transportation was a massive obstacle, and sometimes that was the only barrier between them staying in college, keeping a job, or taking care of their families,” Gletow told CBS news.
Participants gathered for dinner where the real reason for the trip was revealed. The nine were then surprised with car keys, along with a $500 gift card, and more.
After surviving abuse as a child and being placed in the foster care system, Bella received an advanced degree and has relocated to Minnesota from California to take care of two foster children who have experienced similar trauma. The car she received will replace the one that was totaled in an accident by a drunk driver.
Britney has needed $300 a month just to Uber to school and work, juggling multiple jobs to put herself through college. The car she received will improve her financial situation and allow her to prepare for her future.
Since aging out of the foster system, Sando has become a single father dedicated to delivering local support through a peer group he founded and advocating for legislation. The car he received will help him juggle his professional career, finish his education, and parent his children.
“It’s our mission to spread love, hope and joy to those who have been impacted by abuse, neglect and trauma,” said Danielle. “The effects of those circumstances can be compounded when young adults ‘age out’ of the foster or child welfare system, and we are grateful that we have been able to take one major expense off their plate.”
Are you feeling the holiday spirit? Are you interested in donating on ‘Giving Tuesday’ this week? Head over to the One Simple Wish website, where you can browse through hundreds of wishes from foster kids—ranging in all prices to make it affordable—and fulfill a request for making a dream come true.