Kimberly Elmore, an Identity Staff Writer has dedicated her time to “Scratch the Surface” on a woman each issue. Kimberly’s interviews to highlight any woman who feels that she has achieved in her life. Whether you’re a mother, CEO, nurse, or an entrepreneur, we want to scratch the surface and find out how you got to where you are today and what have you learned.
Danielle Gletow, One Simple Wish “The most wonderful thing about miracles is that they sometimes happen.”-G.K. Chesterson
This quote is displayed on the non-profit, One Simple Wish, Web site: www.onesimplewish.org. This quote embodies what founder and executive director of One Simple Wish, Danielle Gletow, sets out to achieve every day. Gletow’s organization makes miracles happen by granting wishes for children and families in need.
One Simple Wish was founded in 2008, but Gletow had a vision for this organization years ago. “I had the idea for One Simple Wish about eight years ago, but I didn’t really start building it until I went on maternity leave with my daughter,” said Gletow, a West Trenton, NJ resident. “I wrote the business plan during many mornings sitting on the lake with my daughter, Lily. I had been volunteering with non-profits and sitting on the Board of one for a few years, but I knew it was time to create something of my own.” Gletow says her children are what inspired her to take the leap into running her own non-profit.
“I became a foster parent in 2006, and Mia was placed with me and my husband in September 2007 at just three days old. Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant with Lily,” said Gletow. “While I was on maternity leave, I really started thinking about what it was I wanted to teach my girls in life – success became redefined for me. It was more about being satisfied, knowing you’re doing something you care about than how much money you make or what kind of shoes you wear.”
Gletow says millions of children and families in our country are homeless, living in poverty, or are trapped in the foster care system—hundreds of thousands of those families are in New Jersey. As a foster parent and passionate advocate for children, Gletow wanted to reach out to those families by facilitating small acts of kindness—and so, One Simple Wish was born.
“I continue to be amazed and inspired at how much true joy and appreciation I see from families and children who receive small gestures of kindness from strangers. Many of us may view school supplies for our kids, a new household appliance, or even a haircut as a common expectation. But for others these seemingly basic needs can appear to be major challenges.”
Through One Simple Wish’s Web site, strangers are able to connect in a powerful way. Wishes range from $5 to $100 and vary from purchasing a backpack, to gift cards, to sending a family out to the movies. Those interested in granting a wish, can search the database of wishes at onesimplewish.org. Also, One Simple Wish is linked with non-profits and religious organizations who submit wishes on behalf of the children and families.
“Knowing how many children and families we are helping—being able to brighten someone’s day, someone I will probably never get to meet—is the most rewarding part of this all,” said Gletow. “It’s an amazing feeling to touch someone else’s life; I get to do it every day.” Gletow says her children and her husband inspire and motivate her, as well as her love for people. She says she loves finding that one incredible thing about a person—and because she believes that most people have ‘good’ in them—she enjoys drawing that out in a person. She does admit, though, that with the joy and satisfaction of helping others also comes some challenges.
“Coming to terms with the financial aspect of it all is difficult. Even though I didn’t have to work to support the family, I could support our family, and I took a lot of comfort in that,” Gletow says. “I had been measuring myself against my paycheck for a long time, and stepping away from that, to make literally nothing, was really difficult. Some days it still is.” Gletow says it can be challenging to balance her business with her personal life, but she credits her husband with helping her.
“I work all the time, but it doesn’t ever feel like work, so I guess I’m lucky in that. I try to ignore my Blackberry on the days that I have my kids and just be there with them, being silly, being a mom. I know how lucky I am to have such a supportive husband. He gives me plenty of time to nap, catch up on reading or emails, and takes over with the girls. Without him, I couldn’t do anything,” says Gletow.
Gletow, who as a kid pretended to be a magazine editor or a talk show host, always wanted to create and be in charge of something. Now she is living her childhood dream and fulfilling her passion for helping others at the same time.
“I honestly love what I do. When you find your passion, the rest just flows,” says Gletow. “I am blessed to have found something that is challenging, thrilling, interesting, and meaningful, as well as something that I excel at, that I care about, and that I get to do every day.”
One Simple Wish plans to grant wishes for children not only in New Jersey, but throughout the United States, as well as for orphans living in other countries. Check out www.onesimplewish.org to learn more.
In keeping with Identity’s mission of ‘Accept, Appreciate, Achieve’ below are some questions, known as the Identity Five:
1. What have you accepted in your life that took time? Honestly – it took me a really long time to accept that I was not going to be the most beautiful girl in the world. I wanted that growing up. I wanted to be admired for my looks, and I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that it truly isn’t even close to being important. It’s so much more important to be happy with yourself.
2. What do you appreciate the most in your life? My family. I fell in love with my husband when I was 16, and I still love him the same way I did then. And he has created this incredible family with me. I just don’t work without him, and he doesn’t work without me.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Becoming a mommy in two different ways. Adopting Mia was incredible, and equally as incredible was giving birth to Lily. To me, there is no comparison – they are equally as magical and amazing.
4. What is your not so perfect way? I am NEVER on time for anything. I know it annoys a lot of people around me, and I’ve tried to work on it, but I just can’t seem to figure it out.
5. How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…”? Legs! I had to write that because I’ve already gushed too much about my husband and my kids. But that’s a tough one for me because I grew up HATING my legs – they are super, super skinny and I used to get teased for them. But now I love them. I love how they look in jeans, skirts, leggings…I’m just so glad I have learned to love one of the things that I used to be ashamed of. To me, that’s just another sign that I’ve grown up and become a more accepting, comfortable, confident woman.