Behind The Wish - June Butler
Meet June Butler - a former volunteer with the Barossa Valley Branch.
For two years, June Butler had an impact on two different South Australian branches of Make-A-Wish.
Behind The Wish is our series of inspirational reads diving into the everyday superheroes involved in creating life-changing wishes.
Joining Make-A-Wish after tumultuous time
I look after trust accounts in a property management department.
I grew up in Adelaide and went to Port Lincoln with my second husband. He was in the police force, then we moved to the Barossa. My daughter had a baby and that was why I was going back to Lincoln. It was a really hard decision but it felt like home. My daughter had another so there were two kids pulling me back there.
Then I moved to Clare and eventually to Adelaide, where I am now. I am missing the country now!
I have two children; I have a son close to Adelaide and he has three kids under 6. And my granddaughter is now living with me until she goes to uni.
I think I joined Make-A-Wish about 2009. I left the Barossa Branch when I went to Port Lincoln. I started a branch over there but it didn’t take off unfortunately.
There’s only about 15,000 or 16,000 over there so there’s a limited population. It was good while it lasted. I ended up leaving myself, moving to Clare.
My daughter was in the Port Lincoln Branch too but ended up saying to me ‘Mum it’s going to shut’ and I said ‘oh damn’. They granted wishes but didn’t really have active fundraising.
To be honest, if I lived closer to the Barossa I would still be there.
I joined Make-A-Wish during an unfortunate time of my life, it was when my marriage broke up. I was friends with a girl name Jan and at the time we were both saying ‘what are we going to do, we need to do something’ and we both went ‘yep let’s give Make-A-Wish a go’. We made contact with them and, as they say, the rest is history.
They came and interviewed us and both of us joined.
School surprise stays in memory
There was something about the Barossa Branch and I don’t know whether it was Vickie Lester, who kept the buzz going and is such a pivotal point with so much energy. You can’t help but catch her vibe.
I went out and granted a couple of wishes.
They had some really good sturdy people who had been doing it for a while in office bearer positions and they would always say ‘yep I will do it again’. If they loved doing it, I didn’t want to put myself forward.
The wish that really jumps out was a young boy who wanted a stereo and TV in his bedroom. He was quite bed-ridden.
We surprised him at school. That day he was quite unwell and he wanted to go home but everyone at school was saying ‘no, no you got to stay’.
We rolled up and it was a little country school and the whole school was involved. We decorated an assembly area in a classroom and as soon as he came in it struck him what was going on. It was a magical time.
We granted another one in Port Lincoln where we knew the family.
It’s a smaller community and you knew most people. It was so many years ago but I still get emotional when I talk about it.
It’s the fact that it’s not just the child that’s sick, but you enhance that child by giving something to their siblings too.
The wish was a trip up to the Gold Coast. We could give the siblings backpacks with little cameras my daughter got from Kmart.
So, they each had their own camera. All this sort of stuff makes it special. It’s often the siblings that miss out when a child is sick.
It wasn’t just about the sick child; it was the whole family unit being involved that made it a special thing.
Knowing that the parents were so grateful for what we could do for them.
I’m wiping the tears away talking about it. It was just because it was so special.
Make-A-Wish is such a special charity and ever since I was part of it that was what I thought and right up to now when I see what you’re doing on Facebook for kids.
They have had some big wishes at Barossa but they never forget about the individual volunteers. You became a family. Even the extra volunteers – the helpers – who would come when you needed extra sets of hands.
Vickie used to put on a Christmas party every year for the volunteers.
One of these helpers used to get dressed up as Father Christmas and everyone would get gift. You were special because you gave to the branch.
There is something about Vickie’s energy which is unbelievable. You weren’t only working for the kids and the charity; you were special to her.
Port Lincoln wishes
I wanted to start a Port Lincoln Branch because of what I felt from being in the Barossa Branch. Because of what you can do for the kids.
Someone said to me ‘it’s so far here to grant wishes because there’s a lot of travelling to get here’ and I said to myself ‘if we can get a branch here it would be so much fun for the locals’.
I know my daughter gained a lot from being involved. We just wanted to bring some of the joy over there.
I moved on. It just fizzled out. For a while they became non-active, they didn’t do any fundraisers but if there a wish they were able to grant it.
The thing I liked about Make-A-Wish was that what you fundraised didn’t limit you in terms of the wishes you could grant. If you fundraised $10,000 that year you weren’t limited to $10,000 of wishes. Your corporate sponsors and head office would make the wishes happen regardless of the local fundraising.
When I first moved back to Adelaide, I did go to the Adelaide branch to see about joining but the size of the branch wasn’t what I was used to. Because Make-A-Wish happened around when my marriage broke up, if felt like I was stepping back in time a little bit.
It just didn’t feel right. I liked the intimacy you had in smaller branches.
When I got the branch going in Lincoln my principal of the estate agency where I was let me use the boardroom and office for the meeting. He said 'you print out, use our supplies and do whatever you need to', it didn’t bother him.
He just said come in after hours and use the office.
I still miss it and if I was closer to a smaller branch here, I would probably go back to it.
Make-A-Wish is a healing thing for yourself as well. It’s a feel-good thing when you’re struggling with life and you look at these kids and these families it does something to your heart. That’s what I loved about it.
June was a proud volunteer between 2009 and 2011