Behind The Wish - Jacinta

Meet Jacinta Evans - a wonderful Make-A-Wish volunteer of four years.

As part of the Cairns Branch, Jacinta has gone above and beyond to make wishes happen in Far North Queensland.

Behind The Wish is our series of inspirational reads diving into the everyday superheroes involved in creating life-changing wishes.


Couple settle in Cairns

I am from Brisbane originally. I finished my teaching degree and my first teaching job was in Aurukun, an indigenous community on the western cape of Queensland of about 2000 people, which is where I met my husband.

He is a police officer and I guess we were both doing our remote time. He had to move back to Cairns with his posting so we moved back to Cairns and I fell in love with Cairns.

He is from Brisbane too and would happily go back to Brisbane but Cairns is where we plan to stay. I hope we settle down here for the rest of our lives.

The lifestyle is so easy, it’s not as busy and you don’t have the traffic or chaos you have in busier cities.

I think what shaped me is my mum is a nurse and my dad is a paramedic. And I feel like with those jobs, where you are helping the community, that myself and my siblings all just made the decision ourselves to volunteer.

We never were pressured into it, but we all volunteered for different charity events throughout school. I guess it gave us the satisfaction and happiness you get from helping others and that’s why it has just stuck with me.

That’s the only explanation on where it stemmed from. My parents were kind of the role models, helping people in their professions. We were never pressured but we would always volunteer for events. I know they are proud of that, that all four of their kids do it.

We married in July 2016 in Brisbane.

All our family were there. I would have loved to have it in Cairns but it was more convenient for us to go to Brisbane than all our families to come up here.

We got married in Fortitude Valley and it was a church service and then a big party at night. With 100 of our closest friends, it was a good night.

Looking back, it was a bit of a blur. The day went so fast.

Even though it’s your day, photos are happening now, then something else is happening so you’re kind of ushered somewhere all the time.

If we had our time again we would probably elope. Just the less chaos and pressure for everything to go a certain way in the lead up.

If we eloped it would have been more intimate, the two of us travelling overseas and tying the knot.


Two beautiful girls bring 'fun chaos'

I had my first child at the end of 2020 and I disliked being pregnant so much that I was happy to have only one child.

My husband is an only child. I always thought I would have a big family but after the pregnancy it was like no way. I hated it.

I was bed-ridden for the last trimester. I was in preterm labour and having contractions every three hours.

We had our first daughter Harper in November 2020 and I said to my husband ‘if we are having another, I am having it close to the first pregnancy’ as I still remember how fresh in my mind the pregnancy was.

I didn’t want in two years to think it wasn’t that bad and fall pregnant then. We fell pregnant again and I gave birth to my second daughter Ella 15 months apart and now I can say I’m done.

I applaud people who enjoy it. But for me I had morning sickness, the sciatic pain, I was just not a good pregnant person.

I am glad I have got two beautiful girls from it and Ella has just turned one. So, I have a one-year-old and a two-year-old, which is chaos but it is fun chaos.

I don’t want to compare but you naturally just do: Harper started walking at 10 months and Ella took her first steps at 11 months. The way they learn is so different.

When Harper feels she has mastered something she will do it straight way whereas Ella when she gets it will practice, practice, practice it. Harper is my rule-follower.

But Ella she is happy to go down the slide headfirst, she is definitely my risk-taker. The one I will be watching a bit more closely.

Harper went back to day care at one and Ella went back at 10 months but they are both four days a week.

My husband takes the Monday day off and works night shift so that saves us with childcare fees.

I work full-time. I am head of student services at a high school. It mainly focuses on behaviour management and social/emotional issues of the students.

Back in our day we would have been called head of junior school and head of senior school, so I essentially am head of senior school, which is grade 11 and 12.

And in my role I don’t think I could really do it part-time. If a fight was to happen on a Tuesday and I’m off on the Wednesday, the follow-up won’t happen till the Thursday. It can just get a bit messy.


Jacinta loves being a happiness-giver

I went on maternity leave but came back to Make-A-Wish because I just want to be involved in the community. I used to play a lot of sport and I don’t do that anymore.

So, I didn’t want to drop Make-A-Wish. It brings me happiness.

Seeing the happiness I can bring to other families, brings me happiness and that’s something I didn’t want to sacrifice. I want to be a role model for my girls.

Helping others in life fulfills me, it’s a great feeling. In this role at work, I can definitely get caught up with negative behaviours, but Make-A-Wish is something which is always positive.

Like you never go to do something with Make-A-Wish and it’s a negative experience. It’s always a positive experience.

I made it a priority because I know it brings me joy.

It all started when I mentioned it to a colleague and good friend at the school so we signed up to Make-A-Wish together. Unfortunately, her application got declined at some level.

The plan was for me to know someone going in but I went to the first meeting thinking she would be joining in a few months but it didn’t eventuate.

But when I joined the people were super lovely. It was in 2019. I was made to feel very welcome.

I knew a bit about Make-A-Wish. I think just maybe growing up I heard about it. I did do a bit of research before joining, I made sure it was something I wanted to be connected to.

I think what I had in my mind is what we actually do. Monthly meetings discussing new wishes that come through, and who is going to be assigned to them. And going to meet those families. And a lot of fundraising which we do in the community.

I think my first wish will always stick with me.

We built a cubbyhouse for a young girl. The first meeting I went to they were talking about the working bee they were planning for this wish.

We all went to her house and organised some builders, who volunteered their time, and we got a massive cubbyhouse donated.

They put together a big cubbyhouse and a swing set and slide set. Not having met the family previously, and just showing up on that day and seeing the excitement around the family and the build up, that was fantastic.

They could see everything progressing over the day. At the end of the day, it was super exciting. The smiles and the happiness that you see, I think that stays with you. I don’t think that will ever leave me. It was really lovely.

How grateful the family was and the community spirit, carpenters and builders donating their time. It was just a good community feel. After all they go through, the little girl and her siblings, it was beautiful for them to have these positive memories.

For the little girl it was a bit of an escape from reality.

It was her space, decorated with all her favourite colours.

It’s somewhere she can go to get away from the day to day of what she has to go through. A fun space that she can make some really happy memories in.


'We were dancing in the living room with her'

There was another girl who first wanted a wish to go to the snow.

She had a relapse and got a bit sick again. By the team I and another volunteer did another home visit and met the family she was a bit older so the wish that she wanted to do was too young for her now.

But just the excitement in the kids when they bring up what they want to experience. Her new wish was to attend the concert of JoJo Siwa (pictured), who wears massive bows in her hair and is full of energy and excitement. I didn’t know the singer but the little girl could just tell us everything about the singer.

We were dancing in the living room with her. She taught us some of the dances and we weren’t very good but that’s ok!

That was a really nice memory. She was so excited. They shared pictures of the concert with us, and you could see how happy she was to see her role model. It was a fun family trip away.

The wish families are going through the unthinkable.

They have got to stay strong for their kids. The wish is a bit of a break for them, in the day to day to challenges they have to go through.

A chance to have some precious family time.

We just offer them that distraction, a positive distraction, and give them something to look forward to. I think that goes a long way. Hope and happiness can be great medicines.

And then we provide them with amazing experiences and they don’t have to worry about financial aspects or logistics.

They can just go and enjoy it. They are the advocate for their child, the support network, but they need a break too.

On the drives home you do get emotional. I try not to at the homes,

I try and make it a positive experience and so do the parents. I have never gone to a home visit and we’ve sat around and been sad.

There is no ‘woe is me’ from the families, they are so positive and so resilient. They are never questioning why it happens to them, well never in front of us anyway.

It is emotional but I never want them to feel like they have to cater for me being upset if that makes sense.

Yes I am a part of their life for a little time but I don’t want them to think they have to protect my feelings. I just try and make it a really positive moment for them.

When you leave you reflect on it and yes it is emotional.

And then you can go to Make-A-Wish meetings and hear someone has passed but we just try and remember the happy memories we helped provide.

I think Make-A-Wish just allows me to feel like I give back.

I feel very blessed and grateful for the life I have and lucky enough to have experienced a good childhood and been able to get myself into a position where I am comfortable with my family life.

I think it’s important that I am giving back to the community. It makes me feel like I belong in the community. It gives me a sense of purpose.

I hope I am able to be a good role model for my girls and they will want to give back to the community.


Cairns locals always ready to dip into their pockets

Through our fundraising we get out there into the community. That’s how you really feel part of the community. You see your students out and they are happy to come up to you and say ‘Hey Miss how are you going’.

I organised a trivia night at one of our local restaurants, just before going on maternity leave. That was a really fun night and we raised a good amount of money.

I was the Fundraising Coordinator before I went on leave.

We did sausage sizzles, large raffles, things that do take a lot of time and organising. Getting companies to donate to the raffles.

But at the end of the day everyone is happy to help. A lot of people know about Make-A-Wish.

Cairns community seem to have a good understanding around Make-A-Wish.

People tend to ask us what we do and how they can join.

The fundraising events are always fun. Cairns people and all FNQ people are very generous.

I think every person on our Branch committee has good relationships in the community. Someone will know someone we can ask.

And when you explain to that person what it’s for, they are happy to donate their time or services.

Even a recent wish a young boy wanting to learn to fly, one of the team members knew a pilot happy to train the boy. So that’s saving money when we can, money to go towards other wishes.

I think just everyone on the team so welcoming and lovely.

We are all there for the same purpose. No one is there to make it a ‘me-show’.

Everyone has the same sense that we are there to help others. It’s just a lovely little crew.

Everyone is there for the right reasons. They just want to give back.

To organise wishes and see them come to life, it’s not something you will ever regret.

It makes you feel good. It gives you that joy and happiness. It’s a selfless act, you’re not doing it for yourself you’re doing it for others.

You’re in a team but you’re doing it for communities and families. At the end of the day, it's not really about us, it’s what we can do to help others.

I don’t think you are going to regret giving your time to Make-A-Wish.

The joy wishes bring to families who are really going through tough times is amazing.

Jacinta has been proudly volunteering since 2019