Nonprofits Help Grant Seniors' Wishes

Article excerpt

Tom Burgett, a 70-year-old man in the latter stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease -- which makes it difficult to breathe -- had a wish to explore the world without leaving his wheelchair and oxygen tank.

Burgett wanted to receive postcards from destinations across the globe so he could see the world without traveling and be in touch with people worldwide.

He contacted Wish of a Lifetime Foundation in August, and the group reached out to the public via Twitter and Facebook. One month later, Burgett had received more than 1,400 postcards from more than 65 destinations as far away as Istanbul and China, according to Jeremy Bloom, the founder of Wish of a Lifetime.

With a mission similar to that of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to ill children, the Wish of a Lifetime Foundation and the Twilight Wish Foundation give seniors nationwide the opportunity to turn lifelong goals into realities.

Founders Cass Forkin of Twilight Wish and Bloom created their respective organizations based on the idea that seniors should be appreciated and rewarded for their accomplishments.

"We are talking about a generation that has been through so much," Bloom says. "They have encountered so much of this nation's history, from the boats of Pearl Harbor to the Great Depression to Vietnam and so much more. I just wanted a find a way to show that we appreciate them." "We have a lack in our country of showing and honoring those who have paved the path for us that we care," Forkin says. "I wanted to change that." The Twilight Wish Foundation was born in 2003 after Forkin anonymously covered the bill for a group of female seniors struggling to pay at a diner in Doylestown, Pa.

Forkin says the women were overly grateful, inspiring her to create an organization that would "make the world a nicer place to age, one wish at a time" -- a quote that is now front and center on the foundation's website.

For the Twilight Wish Foundation, applicants must be over 68 and have an income of less than 200 percent of the poverty level or be residents of a nursing facility and do not have the ability to make their dreams come true.

The Wish of a Lifetime Foundation was founded in 2008 by Bloom, a two-time Olympic skier, 11-time World Cup gold medalist, entrepreneur and former NFL player for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles. Bloom created the organization in honor of his grandmother, Donna Wheeler. …