Give Kids The World Village Closes Indefinitely
Give Kids The World Village is an 84-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort in Central Florida. At this magical place, children with critical illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations.
They were recently made the “devastating” decision to close its doors indefinitely as a result of COVID-19. 171 employees and a majority of the charity’s staff will be laid off, effective June 17. There will still be 26 employees that will remain on the job for security purposes, fundraising, and to work with alumni families as well as volunteers and nonprofit partners.
Give the Kids The World CEO and president Pamela Landwirth made an announcement on social media saying the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which pays for travel and other expenses for the 8,000 families, had “unexpectedly” decided not to schedule additional wishes until a vaccine is issued and is in wide use for the deadly virus.
Dear Village Family,
It is with a heavy heart that I must share some devastating news both for me personally and for our entire Village family.
Unforeseen circumstances directly related to COVID-19 have resulted in Give Kids The World having to remain closed. Although the theme parks are reopening, we are uncertain as to when they will be able to welcome vulnerable guests, including our wish children.
The Village, therefore, will remain closed for an undetermined period of time. Unfortunately, this means we must lay off the majority of our staff effective Saturday, June 27, 2020. A small team will remain to ensure the safety and security of the Village and to nurture our relationships with you – our alumni families, volunteers, wish granting organizations, donors and other partners as well as prepare for our eventual reemergence. We will continue to honor our commitment to never turn a wish child away. If there is a rush wish prior to our reopening, we will work with our wish granting partners to fulfill that wish.
I can promise you that I will work tirelessly to find a way to reopen our beloved Village as soon as possible.
Give Kids The World Village CEO & President
“We support their decision,” Landwirth said in an interview. “It is heart-wrenching, but the safety and well-being and health of our very vulnerable children and families are our utmost priorities. And at this point, we just don’t know when it will be safe for them to travel, when it will be safe to be in places with large groups.”
“This is understandable but heartbreaking,” read one reply to the charity’s announcement on Twitter. “The moment you are ready to reopen, I know there is an army of Orlando locals just waiting to volunteer.”
“Other nonprofits don’t have a resort where they have to continue maintenance and landscaping,” Landwirth said. “So even though we’ll be closed, we still need that financial support more than ever so we can be ready for when we come back.”
It’s not clear yet whether that will be only after a vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is developed.
“Although the theme parks are reopening, we are uncertain as to when they will be able to welcome vulnerable guests, including our wish children,” Landwirth said. “It’s going to have to be when all three of us — the theme parks, the wish-granting organizations and Give Kids the World — feel it will be safe.”
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