In 2005, the Village family grew by two when Phil and Jo Cooper came to Florida and found a special place to volunteer.
At first, Phil was a little unsure about spending so much time around children who were critically ill. Would it be too difficult, he wondered, too heart breaking? But when he and Jo came to the Village for volunteer orientation, and when they saw visiting wish kids laughing and playing, they were sold.
Eight days later, they picked up shifts serving dinner in the Gingerbread House.
Phil said that first shift changed their lives for the better, and from that moment on, they became staples at the Village. They’ve greeted families at the airport, served breakfast in Café Clayton and filled many other shifts. Their willingness to help and bring smiles to so many children and families has truly made an impact on the Village – and on their own lives.
“I remember a little girl proudly announcing to me ‘I only have one kidney,’” said Phil. “I remember saying ‘Wow, you are the first person I have ever met who only has one kidney!’”
Phil says that although it’s difficult to know a child is ill, it was moments like this that influenced his approach to volunteering. Instead of allowing that sadness to show, Phil and Jo were always bright and cheerful to make the kids feel special.
“Our favorite things about Give Kids The World,” he said, “is seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids and knowing that we have played a very small part in making their wish so special.”
Now Phil and Jo are off on their next grand adventure, living in sunny Spain, and although the Village misses them terribly, we’re so thankful for their dedication to the Village the last 13 years.