I Survived Real Estate Series 2022 – Gloria Crockett of Make-A-Wish Orange County & Inland Empire




Gloria Jetter Crockett has more than 25 years of management and leadership experience at both a local and national level within the nonprofit arena. Currently, she is the President and CEO of Make-A-Wish® Orange County and the Inland Empire, an organization that grants wishes to children battling critical illnesses.

She has gained extensive experience in working with community and corporate leaders, volunteers, major gift donors and leading high-performance teams of staff and volunteers. Previously, she was the chief development officer for Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and formerly served as the interim executive director for development and the senior director of development for the cancer programs for the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. In this role, Crockett lead a team of seven and was responsible for $10 million in fundraising annually.

Prior to the University of California, Irvine, Crockett spent 17 years in advanced roles with the American Cancer Society culminating in the state senior vice president for Maryland, managing a team of 45 and raising over $7 million dollars annually. In this role, she led the Society’s community and volunteerism efforts and guided staff and volunteers daily in support of the Society’s goals and mission. Crockett was successful in providing strategic leadership and direction, which advanced a diverse portfolio of bottom line objectives. Crockett holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and currently resides in Orange County with her family.



Episode Notes:



Narrator  This is The Norris Group’s real estate investor radio show the award-winning show dedicated to thought leaders shaping the real estate industry and local experts revealing their insider tips to succeed in an ever -changing real estate market hosted by author, investor, and hard money lender, Bruce Norris.

Joey Romero  All right. Welcome, everybody, to the Norris group real estate radio show and podcast. This is Joey Romero. But before we get to our special guests, I want to make a quick announcement. Today we are going to launch our I Survived Real Estate series. Yes, we’re back live once again on October 28, at the Nixon library. Hopefully we’ll see you all there. It’s going to be another great event. And I can’t believe it’s been three years since we’ve done this event live. I want to start out by saying that you know this, in this series, we’re going to be interviewing some of our past Rohny Award winners, but this week we’re going to start out with President CEO of Make-A-Wish OC and IE. But first I want to start by thanking our Platinum sponsors, Dan Redig over at the SDCIA, Kaaren Hall at uDirect IRA, Buddy and Kimberly Rushing at White Feather Investments. Marck De Lautour at the Collective Genius, and Linda Pliagas  at Realty411 Magazine. This week, we have a very special guest. You know we have some tremendous partners with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, but the main benefactor of our Eisah buy real estate is Make-A-Wish and today we are joined by, like I mentioned earlier, Gloria Crockett and she has more than 25 years of management and leadership experience in both local and national level with the nonprofit arena. Currently, she is the president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire, an organization that grants wishes to children battling critical illnesses. Gloria has gained extensive experience in working with community and corporate leaders, volunteers, major gift donors, and leading high performance teams of staff and volunteers. Previously, she was the development officer for Second Harvest FoodBank of Orange County, and formerly served as the Interim Executive Director for Development and senior director of development for cancer programs of the UCI School of Medicine. In this role, she led a team of seven and was responsible for 10 million in fundraising annually. Prior to the University of California at Irvine, Gloria has been 17 years in advanced roles with the American Cancer Society, culminating in the state Senior Vice President for Maryland, managing a team of 45 and raising over $7 million annually. In this role, she led the society’s community and volunteerism efforts and guidance staff and volunteers daily in support of the society’s goals and mission. Gloria was successful in providing strategic leadership and direction which advance a diverse portfolio of bottom line objectives. GLORIA holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from CalPoly Pomona, and currently resides in Orange County with her family. So, welcome to our show, Gloria. So happy to have you on today.

Gloria Crockett  Oh, thank you so much, Joey, I appreciate you inviting me to join you and tell us a little bit about our partnership and all the wonderful things that you guys are doing.

Joey Romero  Can you start out by just telling us a little bit about your role as President and CEO?

Gloria Crockett  Yes. So, as President and CEO of maker wish Orange County and the Inland Empire, my responsibility is to provide a vision and strategic direction to our staff team, our volunteers and all of our community partners. And so what does that look like? We’ve got four buckets that we we look at for our strategic planning. One is Grant more wishes. One is to increase our revenue. One is to inspire our people. And then the final one is to enhance our capabilities. So, I lead a wonderful team of staff and volunteers to help accomplish our mission at Make-A-Wish.

Joey Romero  And so is this something that you always knew that you wanted to do growing up? Or when did that one of that bug hit you?

Gloria Crockett  Well, actually, I always was a volunteer. I volunteered constantly when I was a child. When I was a young teen, I would always volunteer at food banks. And picking up trash on the beach was a big one for me. And as a as a young woman, I joined my first not for profit Club, which was called the Venture Club. And that was a group of young women that gave back to organizations by fundraising, volunteering our time and as I was doing that, because I was actually studying to be a broadcast journalist. I, unfortunately, my father became ill and passed away. And so my mom, I told my mom, you know, the next five years, I’m going to start working for the American Cancer Society. And so that was a complete shift. And I’ve had this 25 years of giving back to the community. And it’s just been absolutely wonderful. So I’ve truly enjoyed it. And I, I continue that journey with my, my kids. I’m a bonus mom to two boys from my husband’s previous marriage. And then I have a daughter, Sydney, and she and I as well to have done and continue to do lots of volunteering. And we’re even part of a national charity league in which we volunteered every single weekend at a variety of nonprofits to help the community.

Joey Romero  You know, that’s one, that’s one of the reasons I ended up here at The Norris Group is my friendship developed with Aaron, from all the volunteer things that we’re doing in the community. You know, in a previous show, we discussed with my with our good friend, Brent Lee, all the things that we were just kind of act and volunteering and like, ‘Oh, you’re there? okay’. And then eventually led to Aaron asking me to actually help with some of the things that he was leading. And that’s how our relationship and friendship really grew. And, you know, I’m a little familiar with second, you know, with the food bank, I actually ran a nonprofit program for Family Service Association, called Mobile Fresh.

Gloria Crockett  Okay.

Joey Romero  And what we did is we had a an RTA bus that was donated from Riverside Transit Authority, and we gutted it, and we turned it into a mobile grocery store.

Gloria Crockett  Wow.

Joey Romero  And so we were going to food deserts, and providing, you know, fruits and vegetables to low income communities and providing them at a very, very low cost. And so, when I took over, you know, the program had, you know, 10 stops. By the time I left and came over to The Norris group, we had two buses, and we were running 80 stops in both Riverside and San Bernardino County. So, it was, it was, you know, I came when I was more than familiar with the nonprofit world, it’s tough, but you know, it’s really fulfilling, and you know, you can really impact the community that way.

Gloria Crockett  Oh, for sure, I think that what people you know, being able to help others is so rewarding, and being able to see that we’ve made something easier, or provided hope. And joy is just so key in whatever you do from a food bank, to, you know, providing clothing for a family, providing guidance and helping writing resumes, you know, we’ve all done different things. And, you know, it’s, it’s so important to be able to say, you know, I’ve experienced something different. And, you know, I want to be able to give back to those that I can help in any way possible. And I think that’s it’s important to teach our youth that. And I, you know, you mentioned, Aaron, and that’s how you guys met you really connected there. You do connect with like minded people when you’re doing different volunteer activities. And it’s not because you have to, it’s because you want to, I think that’s really, really important.

Joey Romero  No, I actually was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. And when my when I was 10. My parents decided they wanted well they apparently they had decided way before that they were moving to California because we came for a visit in 1973. And at that time, they said we were going and then in 79 we actually went took the trek across the nation from the Midwest and I ended up initially in Pasadena and then ultimately in Covina Hills. Absolutely. And it’s funny that you said that the showing young people is, you know, you obviously had a very strong poll on why you wanted to, you know, spend your time with Cancer Society. For me, it was just I wanted to show my kids that giving back is the right thing to do. I didn’t want to wait till you know, something tragic happened in my life, or, you know, I went through anything, to be able to show them that, hey, it is important to us as a family to give back. And so, you know, all those years that I spent time with the Pick Group, the young professionals of Riverside, we would always, you know, have all these volunteer events. And I would just tell him, I said, you guys got me during the week. But the weekend, you know, that’s, that’s for my family. And if it’s something that was involved with the weekend, then it had to be something that my family could be involved with. And so that’s how I engage them with everything that we did. Now, you CalPoly and then you went across the country are you from, originally from California? Okay. Nice. Yeah, I almost played baseball for CalPoly Pomona. I played at Rio Hondo Junior College and ended up going to Dominguez Hills. But that’s another story for another time. How does how does Make-A-Wish I, you know, see, does is it pretty aligned with national as far as the goals and objectives or do you guys have some autonomy?

Gloria Crockett  Yes, no. So, we have autonomy in the way that there are 58 chapters for Make-A-Wish across the nation. We’re all our own 501 (c)(3), we have a governing board and, that has fiduciary responsibilities to ensure that we’re running properly and on target with all of our policies and procedures. So, where are we are in likeness is that we have the four pillars that I mentioned to grant more wishes, increase our revenue, and inspire our people, enhance our capabilities. And then what happens is is Make-A-Wish America is a resource to the chapters throughout the nation by maybe streamlining certain things, toolkits, letters, mailings that go out to help us ease the burden on the local chapters, because all of the money that we raise stays right here in our local chapter area, which is Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. And what’s important about that is, you know, a lot of times some people think that wishes are free. And average cost of a wish, pre pandemic was $9,500. And, right now we’re at about 5000. But we that’s because we had to, we had to do some different things during the pandemic, we had to put some things on hold, but not to hold the wish, but to maybe reimagine the wish. So, the wishes could happen during the child’s treatment, because 90% of parents during a recent impact study that we did, 90% of parents said that having a wish helped their child, be more positive, have hope, and then helped the entire family get through a very difficult situation of a critical illness because, you know, it’s that, how I describe it is it’s part of the treatment plan. You know, we get them through that difficult part. And they they get to have this wish that they’ve been thinking about. And then they’re like, ‘Wow, I got through that.’ And then you know, 73% of our kids live healthy adult lives. And that’s where we want to get them.

Joey Romero  As a parent speaking, the wish has to mean that much more to parents, right?

Gloria Crockett  Yes, yes, for sure, for sure. I’m going to tell you a story about a gentleman that I met when I was at, Make-A-Wish CEO conference back in March. His name is Darren, and I was in the hotel lobby, and I had my Make-A-Wish pin on in a badge. He said ‘do you work for Make-A-Wish?’ I said ‘I do.’ Because Oh, ‘I said we’re having a conference here’. He goes, ‘Oh, that’s amazing. What do you do?’ I said, ‘I’m the president CEO’. He says, ‘I have to tell you something’. And I said, ‘What’s that?’ he says, ‘My son had a wish. And I want you to know that he needed a stem trans stem cell transplant, and he didn’t want to have and he was saying that he wasn’t going to have it. And when he was told he was going to have a wish he was kind of like, Ah, okay, well, he went on the wish they went to, as a family went to Hawaii. When they came back. He said, It was like he had an S on his chest for Superman. He’s like, Dad, I’ve got this mom, I’m gonna beat this. And he had his stem cell transplant. And he’s just doing wonderful.’ I mean, this gives me goosebumps thinking about it again. But you know, to hear that story, and have that dad share with me how impactful it was, is really a testament to what a wish really does.

Joey Romero  Yeah, I can imagine how, you know, just from the stuff that we’ve gone through, and everybody reaching out and just, you know, talking about how special person Aaron was. And I can imagine how, how beautiful it is for you to receive those messages. And you know, how tough it can be at the same time, you know, because you’re reminded of everybody that’s going through something like this.

Gloria Crockett  Yes, for sure. We have to, you know, you know, compassion. Fatigue can be, you know, a difficult thing and we have to, you know, have that celebration, and that smiles when we can and it’s when you see the wish child and you’re like, oh my gosh, and they’re that that smile, that grin from ear to ear. It’s amazing. What a wish does and you know, it’s, it’s the child’s wish, you know, we think about through the pandemic. We had room redos, we had gaming systems, we had backyard swing sets, we had kittens, we had puppies, we had a bird. Lots of birds, surprisingly, you know, cockatoo and. But these are the things these kids these kids want. And there’s even one young man that he wants to DJ equipment. And it’s just quite amazing. The creativity that these got these kids come up with.

Joey Romero  How many years, how many wishes does Make-A-Wish, overall grant per year and how many do you guys at the local chapter?

Gloria Crockett Okay, so at the local chapter, we have granted over 7,689 is where we are right now. And that’s since the start of our chapter. Now, pre pandemic we did about 360 a year. Last year, we did 247. We just finished our fiscal year and set on August 31, excuse me. And so what we’re doing is we’re emerging because as you can imagine, it was hard to do wishes during COVID We couldn’t do travel wishes are large gathering wishes, because our kiddos are so sick. And we don’t want, we didn’t want to do a wish that would cause them to be, you know, have, you know, a become even more ill. And so we did different types of wishes we adapted. And the lowest amount of wishes we did in a full year COVID was 165. And but now we’re coming back strong, travel is starting to open up and wish kids are really, you know, going on those wishes that they’ve been thinking about.

Joey Romero  Do, is there like a menu with it? Or do you just say, hey, what do you want to do?

Gloria Crockett  Well, that’s a great question. So, I’ve gone through a wish granter training. And so we have several volunteers that are wish granters. And so what they do is they go and meet with the wish kids, it was virtually during COVID and said, you know, hey, I’m just gonna talk a little bit about you and what you’re all about, you know, what are some of the things you like to do? You like to be like to go go kart racing, you know, you don’t give them suggestions. You just listen. But you ask them, you know, what are your favorite colors? What are your favorite hobbies? What are your favorite things that you do on the weekend? And then as you start to gather this information, then you ask them, so what is your wish? What is if you had one thing, one thing that you could wish for? What would that be? And then that’s when they tell us and we usually get two different types of wishes, because some wishes may be you know, something that we just can’t do. And so we have those two, and then we go from there, and we start to plan the wish.

Joey Romero  That’s what I was gonna ask you is like, has there been one that is just like, sorry, we’re not buying you a Lambo kid. Stuff like that. What is the limitation of your guys’s wishes?

Gloria Crockett  Yeah, so what there are five types of wishes, I wish to go, I wish to meet, I wish to have, I wish to be, and I wish to give and those different types of wishes, most oftentimes, you know, there’s there’s no cars being purchased. There’s no, I’m gonna take my whole family to another country. It all has to be within reason. So, we have certain guidelines that we’re able to do or not do. And, you know, we also think about the safety, you know, of our kids. You know, if there’s a child that wants to go parachuting, we think, ‘Oh, okay, let’s let’s think about that’, and we have to get a lot of things cleared by their physicians and that one’s usually not one that they’re going to get cleared.

Joey Romero  Sure. Now, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna say, I’m gonna tell you a person’s name. And then I’m gonna ask you a follow up question. I just saw something about John Cena, you know, about his just how he’s just a prolific, you know, wish granter. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Gloria Crockett  Yes. So he is one of our if not the largest, wish granter for Make-A-Wish nationwide, as well as in other countries, for wishes that kids want to meet him and engage with him. And what’s so wonderful about him is that he loves it, he loves every single wish he can do it, he wishes he could even do more. And is when, when a child is able to meet someone that they look up to, like, like him, they’re just in awe, you know, their eyes are, you know, wide open, their jaw drops. And they’re just like, you know, pinch me is this real. And for an individual like him to be able to say this is important to him, it goes back to that volunteer part that we were talking about earlier, that giving back is important. And how that fills you with joy and fills up your cup is so important. And you can see that, that definitely fills up his cup. And he’s taking something that he’s been blessed with in his career, to be able to, you know, pay it forward by being a celebrity that gets lots of wishes.

Joey Romero  Who has been your favorite celebrity or person that you’ve met through these wishes?

Gloria Crockett  Oh my gosh, so I have not been able to meet any yet because I have been on board for three years in my role. I just celebrated three years. So, six months before COVID hit. But I would say one of my, I’ve got a couple of favorite wishes that I’ll share with you. One of them was my first wish that I’ve ever that I was ever able to experience and that was Abdul’s wish, Abdul wish to be a police officer. And we partnered with the Anaheim Police Department, the Anaheim Ducks, The Knott’s Berry Farm, the Los Angeles Angels to create this experience for him that they went to pick him up in the morning. He got to the police station. He had a little uniform on and a badge and they sworn in and as a official police officer, and then he went to to catch the Toon bandits. But what happened was, yeah, that great the Toon Bandits, went to Knott’s Berry Farm they did some you know, stunts and things and then they went to Angel Stadium and there was a helicopter telling him where the Toon bandit was running around the bases. Then he got on the Zamboni at the, at the Duck Serena, you know, all of those things. And my favorite part of this wish was a photo that someone took when he was on his way back to the police station for the final festivities, he, the picture was just him switched over to his side, knocked out.

Joey Romero  Just worn out.

Gloria Crockett  Worn it out. And it was it was so beautiful. Just to see, you know, like, wow, he was able to experience that. And I’ll tell you about another wish that, that’s pretty near and dear to me. There was a young lady out in San Bernardino that wanted to provide toiletries and food to the homeless. So, her wish was to give. And so we partnered with a pantry out there. And we collected items and purchased items and worked with the local food bank. And she was able to prepare care packages for the homeless. And you know, some of these kids they give back to their treatment centers, they give back to their schools. So, it’s, you know, there’s such a variety of wishes that are taking place.

Joey Romero  It’s amazing. So, you talked about how wishes were affected during the pandemic? How was donations affected by the pandemic?

Gloria Crockett  Yes, so our donations cut in half during the pandemic. And we went from when I first got here, we were about 28 staff and during the pandemic, for a variety of reasons, we got down to 15. And, you know, the thing of it is, is we just kept granting wishes that that was what was important, but it was really, really hard to tell the story of why I wish so important with something so incredibly impactful to the entire world was happening around us. So, we had to utilize resources and relationships with individuals that have been long term partners, to help us grant those wishes that we did grant during COVID. And now what we’re doing is we have 528 wishes that are waiting. So, we don’t want wishes waiting for sure. And so what we’re trying to do, or what we continue to do is build an emergence plan, you know, what is that plan that we’re going to continue to increase our revenue to allow us to increase our number of wishes?

Joey Romero  Yeah, I know that. That was really important for Aaron and Bruce, and for The Norris group in general to, you know, not, you know, put a pause on our event, you know, we still found a way to do it and still raise money and, and still be, you know, have a chance to give back. Have you guys chosen the wish for this years I Survived Real Estate?

Gloria Crockett  Yes, we actually have one, I don’t know if you want me to go ahead and roll and share with you.

Joey Romero  Yes, please.

Gloria Crockett  So, we have chosen the wish. And this wish is very, very special. And I’ll be able to share some actual clips at the event if time permits. But this is Liberty’s wish, Liberty’s wish was to have an adaptable swing at a park and looking down. And what this is, is this was a this is a swing that she, she’s she has epilepsy. And so she, the fear would be if she’s on a regular swing, that she would possibly have a seizure and there would be difficulties. So, this is a swing that actually harnesses her in. And if there’s any problems, she won’t cause harm to herself. So, we worked with the city of La Quinta, and we installed this swing last month. And what’s even, you know, the, again, the path forward is that not only can Liberty use this swing at the park, but anybody else that needs that same type of adaptable swing can be used there as well. And so it’s just remarkable and I’m happy to share with you that Liberty is wish is going to be the wish that is adopted by I Survived Real Estate.

Joey Romero  That’s amazing. It’s uh, it’s really cool to to walk around our office and see all the plaques, just all you know, all over the halls. It’s really cool. Before we wrap up, can you just share, you know, what’s new and exciting about anything that you guys are doing? You know, how can we help you guys out?

Gloria Crockett  Yeah, what’s new and exciting is we’re building back our team. You know, we’re up to 23 staff now, because we got to ,we have to focus on those wishes. We’re excited to close last fiscal year with an unaudited number of 247 wishes, which is like, wo-hoo, it was 48 over our goal, what we had gold for. And so right now, we’re just trying to position ourselves financially to continue to grant as many wishes as possible to bring down that pipeline. And then also look at how are we going to continue to emerge with travel travel just started up in June for which kids again, so continuing that journey, continuing that journey of increasing our number of Disneyland wishes that are happening, what’s important to me right now is to say, there’s a huge need. When we think about that fundraising, we need as many funds as possible. And I have to say, a huge thank you to I Survived Real Estate for all that you guys do to help us move forward wishes and help us grant even more. You know, we got, we’ve got to spread the word, we’ve got to talk about wishes, and how important they are to the community, how that changes a child’s life, a family’s life, think about a family that has that much stress from a child that is going through a very, very difficult time, and to have a wish, and for that family to experience that joy together. It’s huge. When a family sees a smile on the face of their child, any parent is gonna be like, that’s priceless. And we need everyone to know we need you. We need you now more than ever, to help us emerge from the pandemic so we can get the wishes that are waiting, granted, and we can continue our journey to you know, have those smiles brought to so many faces.

Joey Romero  So, the more that you heard of people, the more people we get at the Nixon library, the more wishes we can grant so let’s, let’s let’s fill it up, let’s sell it out as soon as possible and, and do everything we can to help them out. Gloria, I really look forward to seeing you again in person, are you going to be flying solo or we are is somebody gonna come along with you.

Gloria Crockett  I would still to be determined. He’s got a he’s got a baby on the way.

Joey Romero  Oh. Okay. Well, either way, I look forward to seeing you and hopefully, Mark…

Gloria Crockett  Oh, I thought you were talking about Mark before, you’re talking…

Joey Romero  I’m talking about you.

Gloria Crockett  Sorry about that. You’re like ‘he has a baby on the way?’

Joey Romero  That’s what threw me off.

Gloria Crockett  I was like, no, no. My husband will be traveling.

Joey Romero  I was like, well, maybe he’s talking about you know, somebody like a grandchild or something. They did throw me up. Did you see my face? Well, if hopefully Mark to make it too but if he doesn’t, you know, you know? Well, at least have you there. But so thank you for being on with us and sharing, you know, everything that you know, Make-A-Wish OC and IE is doing.Is it okay, if I say it OC and IE, or do you guys…

Gloria Crockett  It’s fine, it’s a long name?

Joey Romero  Yes. And so, look forward to seeing everybody again on October 28 at the Nixon library, so if you don’t have a ticket yet, please, please, please reach out. You can email me or Joey@thenorrisgroup or call at the office at any time. And we’ll, we’ll get you set up. So, thank you so much, Gloria. We’ll see you if you need anything just call us.

Gloria Crockett  Oh, thank you so much. And you have a wonderful day and a huge thank you to all of the individuals that support your efforts. It means a lot and your vision and that’s being carried out. You know, Aaron’s vision that’s being carried out through you and Bruce are just such important people to Make-A-Wish so thank you.

Joey Romero  You’re welcome. We’ll see.

Gloria Crockett  Okay.

Narrator  For more information on hard money, loans and upcoming events with The Norris Group, check out thenorrisgroup.com. For information on passive investing with trust deeds, visit tngtrustdeeds.com.

Aaron Norris  The Norris Group originates and services loans in California and Florida under California DRE License 01219911, Florida Mortgage Lender License 1577, and NMLS License 1623669.  For more information on hard money lending, go www.thenorrisgroup.com and click the Hard Money tab.





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