Balloons, ice cream, cookies, cupcakes, snacks and special gifts set the scene at the Norco Firehouse recently for an afternoon of fun for three Louisiana children – including one St. Charles Parish resident – who are waiting for their Make-A-Wish request to be granted.
Shell Norco threw the party, as its Bring Dat 5 Turnaround Team has been working hard and safely to make the children’s dreams a reality. Shell and Shell contractor companies contributed dollars for every OSHA Injury Free work day delivered during the event, and that money combined with personal employee donations raised $50,000 for Make-A-Wish.
Three Wish kids – Eleanor, Anjanae and St. Charles Parish resident Dylan – are awaiting their wish. The Wish kids and their families were present at the Boost Party, a Make-A-Wish program tradition to encourage kids, letting them know that their dreams will be coming soon.
Dustin Cole, Shell’s turnaround event manager, said this is the third charity partnership that has resulted from a turnaround. He said although the size of this turnaround was much smaller compared to previous events, Shell and its partners were able to far exceed their $30,000 goal.
“It was pretty amazing,” Cole said. “This turnaround was about 1/5 of the size … I was just absolutely amazed.”
Cole said safe days, documented positive findings and personal contributions all added up to deliver Make-A-Wish the funds. The boost party, he added, was a unique experience because it gave Shell employees and partners the opportunity to come face-to-face with the children they were raising money for.
“It was awesome because the kids came and visited with us,” he said. “We had gifts and refreshments and were able to interact with the children. I had offered some of my leaders a chance to speak and to tell everyone what it meant to them to not only deliver safe work but to be able to impact the community. Grown men who are not scared to talk in public or in front of people declined because it was just too emotional for them. It was a great opportunity for us … it’s something we plan to continue to do.”
Cole said he wasn’t sure if there would be enough support to raise the money considering hard economic times and people impacted financially by Hurricane Ida.
“I was pleasantly surprised that I had full support,” he said. “Last year was a pretty tough year for the area. I was just amazed … I was really proud of that.”
Angela Garza, the director of corporate engagement for Make-A-Wish Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana, said Shell’s contributions came at the perfect time, as there are currently 209 children in the state of Louisiana who are waiting on their wish to be granted.
“Shell Norco’s partnership allows our organization to realize our vision of granting the wish of every eligible child in the state of Louisiana,” she said. “Our hope is that each wish child receives a true wish experience and their journey is forever memorable. We are so appreciative that Shell was able to deliver an incredible experience for each of our wish kids who came out to the facilities that day. Their medical journey is so hard on them and their families. The wish boost celebration keeps their hopes high and gives them that ‘boost’ to keep on fighting through their critical illness. We are beyond grateful for Shell to bring hope, strength and joy … it’s because of partners like Shell Norco that our mission is possible.”
Garza said the pandemic, hurricane recovery and lack of funding and volunteers has slowed down Make-A-Wish’s ability to grant wishes.
“We are in desperate need of volunteers in the region – specially the River Region,” she said. “We are looking for wish granting volunteers … without those volunteers we’re not able to grant wishes. We’ve got several kids waiting. These kids sit in the queue … we just don’t have the manpower and time and commitment from volunteers in order to give each kid the best experience that we can give them.”
Garza said 14-year-old Dylan (whose parents asked that his last name not be published) is one child who will benefit from Shell’s donation. He is a Luling resident who has undergone a kidney transplant. Dylan’s wish is to have a pool makeover – complete with an enclosure for the pool, LED lights and heater – so that he can swim year-round.