Monique's spreading positive vibes

President of the Western Melbourne Branch Monique Alafaci says she feels like a fairy helping to change the lives of seriously ill children.

Supportive leader

Cheering on the Wish Force

Monique Alafaci’s Make-A-Wish door is always open.

The president of the Western Melbourne Branch’s number one priority is the seriously ill children waiting for their wishes. But she also places a huge emphasis on supporting the branch volunteers, also known as the Wish Force.

Monique said it was important for branch volunteers, who often juggled full-time work or study with volunteering, to feel valued.

Smiling Monique at a Make-A-Wish event

“We have a really great group of people in the Western Melbourne branch, and I make sure we are checking in on each other,” she said.

“It’s not just catching up for the formalities of a branch meeting; it’s about spending non-meeting times with each other.

“We are trying to find some fun activities to get everyone together for.

“I have a real open door policy if people want to talk, if they are stressed or if they want a break.”

Volunteer journey

Monique steps up

Joining Make-A-Wish at the end of 2018, Monique has held several branch roles.

Her first position was Branch Wish Granting Coordinator Assistant before moving to Branch Wish Granting Coordinator.

While helping coordinate wishes, she also took on a second role in Volunteer Care, performing both roles simultaneously.

Monique and other volunteers fundraising

“It was pretty busy; it was go go go from when I started,” Monique said.

Taking the reins as Branch President was a natural progression for Monique.

“We needed someone to step into the presidency role, and people looked at me in the branch and said ‘well, do you want to do that?’ and I thought ‘let’s do it’,” Monique, 31, said.

“I just thought it was the next step from doing the other roles. I fell into it, but I didn’t need convincing.”

Passion for kids

Poppy's wish a favourite

Monique is a provisional psychologist specialising in working with children on the autism spectrum.

She said her passion for children made joining Make-A-Wish an easy decision.

“It was a feeling of wanting to give back in some way and helping kids as well, so it kind of a good fit to join Make-A-Wish,” Monique said.

One of Monique’s favourite wishes has been Poppy’s wish to cook sausage rolls with TV chef Justine Schofield.

Monique with a donation tin, ready to fundraise for wishes

Monique said on her first meeting with Poppy, she could tell the little girl had a wish in mind that she hadn’t revealed.

“We said, ‘is there something you are thinking of’ and she said, ‘I want to cook sausage rolls with Justine,’ so we put it down,” Monique said.

“I think she thought she was never going to be able to do this but knowing that it’s happening is amazing.”

Personal growth

Volunteer experience makes her 'see the world differently'

Volunteering with Make-A-Wish has changed her, Monique admits.

“It’s definitely made me see the world differently,” she said.

“In terms of not stressing over the small stuff. Every day there is someone worse off than you.

“You might be having a bad day, but is that day even close to what these kids’ families are going through?”

Monique at Make-A-Wish Australia's 24HOPE event

Monique said she wants to reach her 10-year milestone with Make-A-Wish and then push past 10 years.

“The experiences you have and the conversations you have will never go away,” she said.

“I think speaking from personal experience, there’s nothing out there like Make-A-Wish.

“You feel like you are doing so much for these kids. It's almost like you are a fairy going out and changing someone’s life in the simplest way for them.

“I think giving to others is the best way to have that self-fulfilment.”

You feel like you are doing so much for these kids. It's almost like you are a fairy going out and changing someone’s life in the simplest way for them.

Monique, President Western Melbourne Branch