Behind The Wish - Zoe Flynn

Meet Zoe Flynn - one of the key members of the Virtual Star Catchers Team.

A love of children coupled with a desire to "do good things in the world" saw Zoe sign-up to volunteer for Make-A-Wish's Virtual Star Catchers.

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


Love for kids develops early

I was born in Bowen, Queensland, and I’m the second youngest of five. Growing up most of my time was in Toowoomba.

All of my family is quite maternal and I have always loved kids. I have three nieces and one nephew and I just dote on them. I love babysitting them or hanging out with them. I have such a strong bond with all of them. If I have any free time, I’ll hang out with them or with my friends.

I don’t have any of my own children yet but I love children and they seem to really like me.
I work as an analytical service manager at an environmental laboratory. It’s a client-facing role.
I am a very social person, I love being with people.


Zoe aims to spread positivity

It’s been almost two years now since I started volunteering at Make-A-Wish. Time flies when you’re having fun.

I decided to join because in my life I’ve always tried to be a good person and do good things for the world.

I want to spread a bit of positivity. Whether that’s pay for somebody’s coffee or something else.

I felt like I go to work 9 to 5, come home and then it’s eat, sleep and repeat. I felt like I was stuck in a cycle a little bit. I love my family and friends so much but only see them so often, so I had time to do some good in the world.

I was on sites like and other sites trying to look through volunteering options but none felt right, until I found Make-A-Wish. And because I love children and they like me, it just felt right.

So, I applied and they got back to me and it just all fell into place. I wanted to do some good and Make-A-Wish resonated with me.

I work 9 to 5 but do so much overtime and even client liaison on the weekend so I felt like I couldn’t commit to an in-person thing, but then I saw there was the option of volunteering online.

I could do it from home, in my spare time and I didn’t have to go anywhere. It just seemed to fit perfectly.

I am the Volunteer Care Coordinator of our team, which is called the Virtual Star Catchers. I am still really new. Lesley Prout, the Wish Granting Coordinator, has been helping me so much.

It’s still doing all the Wish capturing, the only extra thing that I keep an eye on is the new volunteers.

I will pair them with another person to train them and I will help train and mentor them myself and keep an eye on their training records. It’s just a matter of being someone for the newbies to go to. I love training, I do it in my job too.


'It was such a selfless wish'

I have led about 10 wishes so far and been involved in about 15-plus.

There was a little boy who was 6 years old and I’m not sure why this resonated with me so much.

He wanted to be an Irwin for a day. He wanted to be a zookeeper for the day at Australia Zoo and do zookeeper things. At home he wears clothes that kind of look like a zookeeper outfit. He has plushie animals and pretends to be a zookeeper.

He wants to feed all the animals at the zoo.

It had me smiling so wide because he was only 6 but he was so sure of himself and his wish. He knew exactly what he wanted. It was such a wonderous wish.

I would never think of something like that. To be an Irwin and wear the khaki outfit. I thought it was really sweet.

His wish was to do something with animals. To help animals. It was such a selfless wish. I thought it was absolutely gorgeous.

My other favourite wish was a little girl, only 5, who was partially non-verbal. We couldn’t really have conversations but she would interact with me, she would show me all her pictures.

At first, I think she wanted a ball pit or something like that but we went back and during the second wish capture meeting she wanted a groodle puppy. The puppy would be a constant friend for her, because she can’t communicate with other children.

And she wants to name the puppy 'Potato'. I just think it’s so sweet.

While I couldn’t talk with her, her mum would translate for us but I still felt so connected with her. Just to see her so excited …. it was communication beyond words.

I have only seen two or three wishes realised. It takes such a long time but I really can’t wait for her to get her puppy.

I think my favourite part of the wish capture is when they are telling us about their wish. We are bringing joy into their life and we are there just for them. How many times in life do you have someone who just wants to sit there and listen to what you have to say?

Being an adult and asked about your favourite colour is not such a big deal but for a kid, they feel so special. They think to themselves: ‘They want to know my favourite colour?’ I love asking them questions like that and seeing their faces light up.

The wish reveal is great too, because they can’t stop smiling.

I had one wish mum email Make-A-Wish head office the next day saying that her son, the wish child, was telling all his friends about his new friends at Make-A-Wish and he couldn’t stop smiling and talking about it.

It may not seem much, sitting at home and writing down some words about their wish but in their lives, the wish is a huge turning point and pinnacle. It is one of the best things in their life so far.

It is just so important and I love being a part of it.


Inspired by wish kids

The impact is so subtle yet so profound. You don’t realise how much it affects you until you look back on it. I like to be part of something bigger than myself. Being involved with Make-A-Wish has given me some sort of purpose, additional to my career purpose. It’s an emotional purpose.

Parents appreciating you and kids being so overjoyed is really nice but it’s more than that.

You see the wish kids uplifted and be so hopeful, yet they are so, so sick. It makes me think about my life and think about my nieces and nephew and I hold them a little bit tighter.

I have always been quite an empathetic person and volunteering for Make-A-Wish makes you think that little bit more about other people and what they are going through. Just to be a little bit kinder. You do think about the wish families and sometimes I’ll just check in and see how they are going.

You definitely think about others more and what the children are going through. Even though they may be having one of the worst days of their lives, they still want to get online and chat to you about their wish.


Wish experience helps Zoe develop professionally

I think Make-A-Wish has helped my professional development. Two years ago when I started at Make-A-Wish I wasn’t in the role at work that I am now. I was a little meek and a bit quiet. I wasn’t very confident answering the phones. But Make-A-Wish has really helped me to think faster, think on-the-spot, and improvise.

I would definitely say it’s also helped me with my public speaking. I was already quite comfortable working in a team but even more so now.

I now answer the phone at work with confidence, I’m not afraid anymore.

I definitely feel gratitude for being part of something like this. It’s just such an important organisation. It makes me feel so happy and honoured to be part of these journeys with families.

Nothing makes me more excited to see these wishes come to fruition.

I tell every kid they have an amazing wish and I wish I could be part of it. They may think it’s a line but it’s really not, I really wish I could be there right at the end and see their faces.

It is such a unique feeling to be part of Make-A-Wish. I can’t compare it to anything.

It’s a wonderful, fulfilling, selfless feeling. When else can you see a child smile like that? Or talk so excitedly? The Make-A-Wish experience is one of a kind.

There are some experiences that are close but having a child tell you about their cherished wish and seeing the hope on their faces is really incomparable.

I do find time for Make-A-Wish as I don’t want any of the wishes to be delayed. So, if I can fit in Make-A-Wish duties, I will. I will move things around if I have to. Sometimes I do wishes from work.

Wish families will have things on so I try and be flexible. I don’t want a wish delayed. I want to get my report in and I want to get it in now so we can get started and make it happen.


Making a difference

I love a new wish. As soon as they say this child wants to go swim with dolphins, I think: 'cool' and I’ll start writing down a bunch of questions I want to ask the child and family. I love the new challenge of a wish. I love the different ways we can go about it, the creative side. I love to make elaborate PowerPoints and invent new ways to put wishes together.

It is such a rewarding experience. Everyone is there to help you. I have never felt so supported in a volunteer role. For such a small amount of time, it makes such a huge impact on a family and a child. You don’t need 20 hours a week, it’s such an easy way to volunteer. It’s incomparable.

In the small time that we have all got it’s good to try and make a difference.

I hope I will be at Make-A-Wish for a long, long time.

Zoe has been a proud volunteer since 2022