Making Wishes Come True: Annual list highlights what nonprofits really need and how to help

Making wishes is fun. Having them come true is even better. The TCBN hopes to grant at least a few wishes this season with its annual Nonprofit Wish List. We ask several area nonprofits representing a range of missions for some of their wishes as the end of the year approaches. The only caveat? No wishes for cash allowed.

Read on to learn more about each of these nonprofits and what they would love to receive from members of the northern Michigan communities they serve.


Launched in 2010, Born to Read is a project of the Rotary Club of Traverse Bay Twilight focused on literacy awareness. The effort grew from a staggering statistic of poor reading levels among Michigan’s children – with a mission of encouraging families to read to their children every day, from the day they are born (and even before). It starts with delivering a book to every baby born at Munson Medical Center, but the reading engagement grows through partners including the Traverse Area District Library and Great Start and participation in community events. In 2016, it started its Born to Read ambassador program, in which trained volunteers visit parents and young children in community locations, such as baby pantries, neighborhood centers and laundromats, to read with children and talk to parents about the impact daily reading can have on future success.

Less than $100: Supply the children attending Migrant Head Start with one week’s worth of books. One time per week, a Born to Read ambassador distributes a book to each child. There are approximately 20 children.

Less than $500: Supply the children attending Migrant Head Start with one month’s worth of books. This would be approximately 80 books.

Sky’s the limit: Supply all the expectant/new parents at Munson with the two books Born to Read provides for a full year. With approximately 1,800 births per year, this would be 3,600 books.

Want to grant a wish? Email


Located in the heart of Traverse City – on the grounds of the Historic Barns Park – The Botanic Garden is a year-round sanctuary of environmental preservation, recreation and education. Its 25 acres nurtures the soul, enlivens local history and promotes Michigan’s natural beauty. With an emphasis on plant species native to northwest Michigan, it creates and enhances habitats for various forms of wildlife. As a place of refreshment and solace, The Botanic Garden’s unique and original design strives to inform and inspire. After over a decade of careful planning and preparation, the garden is coming alive!

Less than $100: Replacement materials for its Garden Explorer backpack program. Garden Explorer backpacks are checked out for the day for free by parents and/or caregivers to use while they explore the garden and park with children. Items included in the backpacks are children’s garden and nature books, a bird identification guide and binoculars, a mini microscope, magnifying lenses, a pictorial garden scavenger hunt, directions to build a fairy house with natural materials, equipment for leaf and bark rubbings and more.

Less than $500: Supplies for the volunteer gardeners. The Garden Volunteers are growing what they love; the botanic garden couldn’t do what it does without them. Supplies needed include a variety of garden tools (some specialized due to the preservation efforts in Historic Barns Park), gloves, sunscreen and more. The Garden Volunteers help make it possible for guests to experience firsthand the belief of Dr. James D. Munson that “beauty is therapy.”

Sky’s the limit: Restoration of the 1915 Wagon House as an educational center for the Garden. Environmental sustainability is a guiding principle of The Botanic Garden. The more than 100-year-old Wagon House is next on the restoration project list. The Botanic Garden looks forward to offering the community another beautiful space to learn in that it exemplifies the mission of preserving the past while growing toward the future.

Want to grant a wish? Email


Kids having fun at the COGNiTiON Science and Discovery Center in Beulah.

COGNiTiON Science and Discovery Center in Beulah is an interactive science playground that is captivating the community and lifelong learners. The mission of the center is to be a fun place to expand minds through hands-on experiences, for kids of all ages. Visitors enjoy unique and intimate exhibits that capture big ideas in creative ways. The center operates like a museum and provides inspirational activities and explorations that are educationally enriching to northern Michigan. This gives families in our region access to high quality, yet affordable experiences that are typically found downstate and far away. COGNiTiON offers drop-in experiences, special programs, day camp opportunities and field trips.

Less than $100: Makerspace supplies and equipment, including small power tools, AA and AAA batteries, small motors, art and craft materials, Michael’s or ACE Hardware gift card; art and science kits; outdoor exploration toys, such as buckets and nets for day camp adventures.

Less than $500: Building and engineering kits including Little Bits, Q-Ba-Maze, Snap Circuits; sewing and Cricut-type machines for creating; science tools, such as a microscope with video and camera capability; young child and special needs sensory station; new sidewalk signs.

Sky’s the limit: A bigger building for expansion in the downtown Beulah area; large exhibit components such as a Vive Virtual Reality System, computers with high graphics capacity, large Rube Goldberg contraption, orrery model of the solar system or other hands-on contraptions; atmosphere components, such as an overhead sound system; professional sign for the building and an interesting outdoor fountain or statue; and sustaining exhibit and program sponsors.

Want to grant a wish? Contact Kimmee Wenkel at


BooBoo (pictured) is a two-year-old American Staffordshire mix who found a new family recently through the Great Lakes Humane Society.

A little brown dog turned in one day at an animal shelter in Oakland, California was the inspiration for the Great Lakes Humane Society, founded in Traverse City in 2010 by Linda Gottwald. Since that day, hundreds of dogs have come through the shelter, many lucky enough to find a new family – just as that little brown dog ultimately did with Gottwald. The rescue is located on a 10-acre farm three miles west of Traverse City.

Less than $100: Bleach, dog rawhide chews, canned food, paper towels, new mops, Lysol and large garbage bags.

Less than $500: Flea and tick medication (Frontline Plus, Advantage) for all sizes of dogs from PetSmart. No flea collars or Hartz products, please!

Sky’s the limit: Fencing material and volunteers that are handy with drills, building, etc. And a van!

Want to grant a wish? Contact Linda Gottwald at


Ten years ago, Grow Benzie revitalized an abandoned, four-acre commercial nursery into a thriving community center that now includes a 3,000 square-foot event hall, 1,500 square-foot commercial kitchen, 3,200 square-foot office studio, community gardens, edible trails and mini-golf.  Through the summer there is a weekly farmers market providing fruit and vegetable prescriptions, culinary demonstrations, food preserving and gardening classes, and make and take workshops in the MakerSpace. Fall and winter activities include after-school youth programs, weekly potluck discussions, and farming and entrepreneur classes. Grow Benzie’s mission is to foster positive activity that increases access to healthful foods, jobs, life skills, and provides a space that nurtures this activity.

Less than $100: Local and healthy ingredients for kids in the after-school program to make dinner for their group. At the end of the day, all sit around a giant supper table sharing a meal they cooked, along with “rose and thorn” stories from the day.

Less than $500: Eight-foot folding plastic tables to replace the 20+ year-old, donated, laminated wood tables.

Sky’s the limit: Pay the last of the mortgage and have your name on the building or purchase adjacent property. One acre buys farmable land and allows for expansion of the incubator program helping more women, veterans, disabled and minority farmers. Investing in the developed, empty lots adjacent to Grow Benzie would provide a place for local youth trades program to build tiny houses and offer affordable workforce housing (the staff alone could fill four units).

Want to grant a wish? Call director Josh Stoltz at 231-640-0200.


Candace and her daughter Nyilee are pictured with a photo of Candace’s mother Carol.

Meals on Wheels of NMCAA – “So Much More Than a Meal” – improves the health and quality of life of vulnerable homebound seniors by delivering vital nutrition, compassionate visits and safety checks, enabling these seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity.

“In order to help her maintain independence and stay in her home, my mom started with the Meals on Wheels program,” said Candace, whose mother Carol received meals through the program. “Meals on Wheels was more than just a meal for her, it was companionship, a friend, someone to talk with. One day, my mom’s Meals on Wheels driver called to say my mom wasn’t answering the door and he was concerned. He waited for me to arrive and made sure we were OK. My mom was very sick. If the Meals on Wheels driver hadn’t called me, we would not have had the chance to say our goodbyes. We were so thankful for the compassion he showed.”

Less than $100: Adopt-a-Route – Sponsor meals for seniors for a day on an in-town route. Volunteer to drive one day per week.

Less than $500: Adopt-A-Route – Sponsor meals for seniors for a day on a rural route. Meal transporter boxes and thermal bags.

Sky’s the limit: Adopt our whole program.

Want to grant a wish? Contact Robin Flannery at


Nearly 500 band, choir, orchestra and general music students, spanning grades five through 12, were honored to perform on stage at the DeVos Performance Hall for the opening of the 2017 Michigan Music Conference.

The Traverse City Music Boosters, Inc. supports all music students and teachers in the Traverse City Area Public Schools. Each year it awards music classroom mini-grants to K-12 teachers for music classroom enhancements. It also provides annual student music scholarships to current music students in grades 7-11 through an audition process.

Less than $100: Sponsor a TCAPS band, choir or orchestra student for four private music lessons.

Less than $500: Sponsor a TCAPS band, choir or orchestra student to attend summer music camp at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp or Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Sky’s the limit: Purchase much-needed new marching band uniforms for students at Central High School and West Senior High.

Want to grant a wish? Contact Kevin Smiley at