What is your life’s purpose?
To spread as much love to as many kids as possible.
How are you living your purpose?
Every day I hear the most heartbreaking stories of the abuse and neglect of innocent kids. Like most, I am horrified by them, but I am in this fortunate position to be able to extend love and kindness to these children. I get to bring moments of joy back into their lives by sharing their special, simple wishes with caring people all over the country through One Simple Wish. It is the greatest gift to be able to tell them they are loved.
I started One Simple Wish in 2008, after becoming a foster parent two years earlier and seeing firsthand how challenging and confusing it was for kids in foster care. I spent my maternity leave drafting a business plan and architecting an online platform that would make it easy for anyone to help a child who had been impacted by foster care. This platform became One Simple Wish and the goal has always been to share actual stories of children, rather than just statistics, and to connect these amazing human beings to people who want to help.
Simply by going online, anytime, people can browse through hundreds of wishes posted on behalf of kids who have been impacted by foster care. Wishes range in price from $15 to $500 and include bicycles, prom tickets, music lessons, art classes, sports equipment, laptops, new shoes, clothing, personal care products, and so much more. Once a wish is granted, our team springs into action, filling the wishes and ensuring that every one of them reaches the kids along with a note letting them know that One Simple Wish will always be there for them. The response to our program has been unbelievable. We have helped over 45,000 kids in just 9 years!
How did you find your purpose?
The moment I became a mom! The first time I welcomed my first foster child into my home in 2006, I knew that my whole life was about to change. Many things I thought were important, like fancy shoes and a big office and an impressive job title all became so much less meaningful to me. Pure, unconditional love. That is what I discovered makes life worth living. It was interesting because although I always liked kids I wasn’t sure I wanted to have any. But once I did, I couldn’t imagine life without them.
My husband and I decided pretty soon after we got married that we wanted to start a family. We decided we first wanted to adopt, rather than get pregnant. While we explored many adoption options, foster care just seemed to call us. We felt like it was exactly what we wanted to do; open our home to a child who may not have been born into the opportunity or loving homes that we were born into. Over the course of about a year and a half, we fostered four children and it was equally heartbreaking and incredible. Each time a child left, we were crushed. We fell instantly in love with them and wanted to remain in their lives, something that wasn’t an option when we were fostering. But looking back, I am really glad that we did it. I treasure every single minute I got to spend with each of our children and hope that the love we showed them somehow has stayed with them.
I came up with the idea of One Simple Wish after our daughter, Mia Rae, was placed with us as a foster child at just three days old. Because I found out I was pregnant just two weeks later, we decided to close our home to any more children; but we weren’t done with the system. We wanted to do more to show people, to show everyone, that anyone could and should help in some way.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Follow your heart. It sounds cheesy but you know when your heart is on fire. It’s like nothing else. No one has to tell you to do that thing; you just want to. You feel it with every breath you take. That is what purpose is. It feels like you are exactly where you are supposed to be. If you know it, don’t be afraid. Go with it! If you haven’t found it, keep trying new things. It’s out there!
Danielle Gletow has been a passionate advocate for children’s rights for nearly two decades. As a foster-adoptive parent, Danielle was witness to the circumstances surrounding the “invisible children” of the foster care system. Through her foundation, One Simple Wish, she empowers everyday people to grant these children’s simple wishes, spreading the love, hope, and joy they need and deserve. What began in her NJ home with a personal $10,000 investment has grown into a million dollar nonprofit serving children in 49 states through a network of 800+ Community Partners – the largest of its kind. Her story’s been covered by NBC, CNN, The Kate Couric Show, Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, Woman’s World and others. She’s also been named one of the Most Influential Moms by Family Circle and was chosen as a top 10 CNN Hero.