By TRESA HALBROOKS & CHELSEA LOMARTIRE
Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee was founded in 2000 and grants wishes to children between the ages of 2 ½ to under 18 with critical illnesses. The organization believes that wishes enrich these children’s human experience through hope, strength and joy. Since its founding, more than 1,500 wishes have been granted to children in Middle Tennessee. Under her leadership, the organization has seen growth in revenue, mission delivery and engagement.
Beth Torres is an alumna of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she received a Bachelor of Arts in History. She also earned her MBA from Vanderbilt University where she was honored with the Martin S. Geisel Leadership Award. In 2017 she was named Nashville Lifestyle’s Women in Business and Nashville Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO’s and their companies. She contributes to numerous causes and is an alumni board member for Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt.
We asked Beth to share some insight into her work as well as the incredible organization she leads.
Q: What motivated you to work with (or found) the non-profit organization?
A: After 12 years in corporate America, I transitioned into non-profit work because I wanted my work to be meaningful. I originally thought that non-profit work would be easier and less stressful. This was not the case; I found that working for a non-profit has been the hardest and most rewarding work I’ve ever done. The work that I do for Make-A-Wish is so successful because it brings together the best of entrepreneurship and corporate America. We are building a dedicated community at Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee and the people that benefit from our work are kids fighting life-threatening medical conditions. Once you meet these kids, you realize it’s more than a job, it’s truly a mission to make our world better, one wish at a time.
Q: Do you have any upcoming programs or events you’d like the public to know about?
A: There are many ways to support Make-A-Wish! We have two upcoming events this April that the community can get involved in. First, on April 21st, Walk for Wishes will be held at Bicentennial Mall State Park. It’s a family friendly, pet friendly walk. It’s a great opportunity to meet wish families and support Make-A-Wish through peer-to-peer fundraising. You can start a walk team with your family, friends, or coworkers at http://tinyurl.com/WalkforWishesMidTN18
Then, long-time supporter, Super Bowl Champion and former Tennessee Titans player, Kevin Carter, will host his 17th Annual Waiting for Wishes Celebrity Waiters Dinner with co-host Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts on April 24th. This event brings together 50 celebrities from across the country to wait tables on patrons at The Palm restaurant before heading over to the Official After-Party “Jammin’ with Jay DeMarcus & Friends” at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row. It’s a magical evening for patrons each year. The event benefits Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee and The Kevin Carter Foundation. Tickets to this event are going fast! Visit http://kevin-carter.com/waiting-for-wishes/ for more info.
The foundation’s website www.middletennessee.wish.org has an events calendar that covers not only fundraising events, but volunteer opportunities and trainings as well.
Q: What’s the biggest difference the non-profit has made in your life or others?
A: I often use #BestJobEver on most of my social posts about work. What’s not to love about my job—I get to help make wishes come true every day! What makes my work special is that I get to see people at their very best. Our wish kids, who are fighting life-threatening medical conditions, are inspirational. They remind us of what is truly important in life. Granting wishes takes selfless volunteers and staff that put our mission first. Our donors also bring these wishes to life because they know they will make a difference in the lives of kids and their families. This job, this organization, is all about building a community of support when people need it the most.
Q: What advice would you give to young professionals wanting to make a difference in their community, whether they decide to work for a non-profit or not?
A: Dedicate yourself to something that is meaningful to you. We all have the capacity to give back and make our communities stronger. You can give your time, money or talents. Whatever gifts you share, do it with passion and true intention. Find a cause that means something to you and start working on it. You don’t have to work for a non-profit or be a board member to create change. Every volunteer and donor strengthens an organization’s mission. Give because you want to create a community you can be proud of and give with a joyful heart.
Q: How do you find work / life balance?
A: I might be one of the worst people to give work-life balance advice! I feel very lucky that my work and my life are deeply intertwined. In my circle, no one is safe – to know me is to be a part of Make-A-Wish. I love to spend time with my family and friends, travel, workout or take a hot yoga class. I’m almost always reading a good book and I’ll admit, my DVR is full. More than balance, I seek to be fully present where I am at any point.
Tresa Halbrooks is the Founder and President of LEGACY Consulting, PR & Events, a premier public relations and event production company based in Franklin, TN. Tresa Halbrooks has produced some of Nashville’s top celebrity and charity events as well as public relations and branding campaigns over the past 23 years.