One of Make-A-Wish® Central New York’s best-kept secrets is our volunteer Gina Palladino.
Gina, a Syracuse native, began volunteering at Make-A-Wish® in 1997, after retiring from an impressive career in foreign services. She decided that she wanted to offer her expertise to organizations in need and Make-A-Wish was one of them. Now, more than 18 years later, she’s still going strong! At least once a week, visitors can find Gina at a Make-A-Wish desk with phone in hand and a smile a mile wide.
When asked why she chose to volunteer, Gina said that it upheld her motto of “paying it forward.” She says she finds her work at Make-A-Wish extremely rewarding and loves interacting with Wish families on the phone. She has befriended everyone on staff and has become a valued part of the office environment. Even Gina herself could never have guessed that she would have been volunteering at Make-A-Wish for so long. She says she continues to do it because she believes in the Make-A-Wish mission.
In 2009, as a testament to her committed service, Gina was awarded the Make-A-Wish Central New York Cindy Award, an annual honor bestowed during Wish Ball recognizing those volunteers who have demonstrated outstanding service and commitment. Qualities of Cindy Award honorees include selfless giving, working to meet or advance the needs of the organization, being respected and admired by others, and consistently doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. Gina says the award was a complete surprise and that she was overwhelmed with joy when Chapter CEO Diane Kuppermann presented it to her.
One of Gina’s favorite Make-A-Wish experiences is the Ms. Orange Fan® Luncheon, an event she attends each year. Ms. Orange Fan® is a women-only fundraising event featuring Jim and Julie Boeheim and the Syracuse University Men’s Basketball Team. Gina, who has always been a fan of the SU Basketball Team, invites all of her friends and family because, as she says, “this is what I like to do, and I want people to know about it!”
Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Gina knows she is a warm and welcoming spirit who is adored by everyone with whom she interacts. She has been a Make-A-Wish volunteer rock star, who has continued to help us share the power of a wish®.
Thank you, Gina!