Amanda Godfread, the Regional Director of Make-A-Wish North Dakota, spends her days helping grant wishes for critically ill North Dakota children. She is also a well-known columnist for the Bismarck Tribune and co-host of the “Welcome to Our Box” podcast. Ladyboss caught up with her to discuss service, motherhood, and balancing it all.
“It’s the best job in the world,” Godfread said. “Kids with critical illness hear ‘no’ a lot. No, you can’t do this or that because of your health. With us, they get to hear ‘yes’! It is such a blessing to watch these kids just get to be kids. These families just get to be families. And that brief relief can bring great healing to the point where kids who receive a wish often do better than those who don’t.”
Granting Wishes on the Prairie
Bismarck Woman Connects Local Community with National Nonprofit
What should people know about Make-A-Wish North Dakota?
Most people have at least some familiarity with the MakeA-Wish Foundation, however, as with so many nonprofit organizations, much of the truly important work doesn’t make the evening news.
“Wishes come in all shapes and sizes,” Godfread said. “The public is more aware of the bigger ones, but we grant about 50 wishes each year for children across the state. It could be something as simple as adaptive play equipment or as grand as a vacation to Hawaii—anything to make these kids feel like kids.
“One of my favorite wishes was for a boy named Beckett who asked for an adaptive swing set. Beckett loved to be outside. He is also nonverbal and uses a wheelchair, so he can’t swing at some of the parks near his home. We granted Beckett’s wish, but that wasn’t all. The neighborhood kids were fascinated by the construction. By the end of the build, Beckett had a new playset and a new set of friends!”
One of the biggest misconceptions many people have about Make-A-Wish, according to Godfread, is where the money goes. The answer—it stays right here. Money raised in North Dakota is used to grant wishes for children in North Dakota. The organization operates on an average of about $12,700 wish—$7,500 in cash, and an additional $5,200 in-kind donations—then works to grant as many wishes as possible with available funds.
Did You Know?
Amanda Godfread is a co-host of the popular podcast “Welcome to Our Box.”
“People in the Midwest are very self-reliant, “ Godfread said, “so sometimes parents don’t choose to seek extra services like Make-A-Wish, but it is never a question of who deserves it more or if referring your child will take away resources from another family. We do our best to grant every eligible child’s wish because everyone deserves a chance at happiness and freedom from the stress critical illness causes to the body and soul.
“So, I think this advice is important for any parent. Be the squeaky wheel for your child. Be their champion in every situation.”
How has your work with Make-A-Wish North Dakota impacted your personal life?
“I’ve tried a few different types of communication work. I began by working with the University of North Dakota Alumni Association for many years,” Godfread said. “I spent a few years on the political side of things with Governor Jack Dalrymple, then a stint with Odney. At the end of the day, though, my heart belonged to the nonprofit sector. And as motherhood became a larger part of my personal identity, I was excited to find an opportunity to connect with other mothers and families in North Dakota.”
Celebrating Make-A-Wish children has become something of a family tradition. Godfread’s three kids are often part of the sendoff or welcoming committee at the Bismarck airport. They help make signs and are always ready to help with fundraisers.
“It’s important to me that they realize giving back isn’t a chore,” Godfread explained. “It can be a joy. It can be a chance to connect with the larger community. As they grow, those connections will keep them grounded in who they are and what they represent.
“This goes for adults, too. As women, and as mothers, we need community. Motherhood is an amazing journey. But it can also be an isolating one. The clash between motherhood and business is real. And it is a challenge for many mothers. We need resources. We need support groups. We need to share our stories and hear from others. I am so happy to be one of the voices in our community facilitating these things both professionally and personally.”
Where can we learn more?
Those wishing to connect with Godfread about the journey of motherhood and create a more empathetic and flexible professional space for women are encouraged to reach out, as well. Her podcast, “Welcome to Our Box,” is returning with new episodes soon, available on Spotify, iTunes, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. She also provides a monthly editorial column for the Bismarck Tribune.