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Wishes For Children Founder Charlie Pate “Making a Difference’

There’s hardly a person in the Temecula Valley that doesn’t know of Wishes for Children and associate it with their affable founder Charlie Pate. Charlie is so committed to his foundation that I made it my assignment to find out what makes Charlie Pate tick? When asked the typical interview question of what motivates him he deftly steers the conversation back to his beloved foundation and answers that “children motivate him.” He claims that he is most happy when he can make other people smile and feel good about themselves. This assertion is not unfounded as anyone who has been around Pate will profess. He immediately lights up when he talks about Wishes for Children or something he has done that made someone happy.

Pate started what is now known as Wishes for Children back in 2001 shortly after he retired from the Navy as a Combat Systems Operator based in San Diego and moved up here to Temecula with his wife Connie. They never had any children of their own and he realized that he was missing a vital ingredient in his life. He researched different ways that he could benefit the area’s children and being an avid golfer he decided to put on a charity event at the Temecula Creek Men’s Golf Club. The annual Wishes for Children Classic Golf Tournament made its debut. (Click on link to become a sponsor or learn more about the Wishes for Children Upcoming Charity Golf Tournament on August 26, 2011.)

Several years later Pate joined the Temecula Chamber of Commerce and officially established the name Wishes for Children as a non-profit organization. It was suggested to Pate that he provide support for Rancho Damacitas, a long-term facility that provides care for 36 children that have been removed from their homes due to abusive or neglectful circumstances. The State of California only provided funds for the administration, but Rancho Damacitas needed financial assistance to supply the children with fun things necessary for children to lead normal lives. Wishes for Children to the rescue. Pate beams with pride as he relays to me that on June 22 Rancho Damacitas was able to send all 36 kids in limousines to Medieval Times in Santa Ana. Last year all were able to go to Disneyland.

In keeping with Pate’s desire to benefit the community through its children he became involved with Keeping Kids First at Christmas which benefits the needy children in Temecula Valley by helping make their Christmas wishes come true. Trees are placed at various venues that have angel ornaments with a child’s Christmas wish on them. People in the community would pick an ornament and return it with the “wish”. Last Christmas over 650 wishes were granted with the help from members of Wildomar, Murrieta and Temecula Chambers.

This year the Monday before Thanksgiving will be the kickoff to “Keeping Kids First.” Along with the angel ornaments are boxes to collect children’s DVDs. These DVDs will be taken to Rady Hospital in San Diego to provide a library for long term children that are staying there over the holidays. Over 51% of the children at Rady are Temecula Valley children. Murrieta Breakfast Lion’s Club partnered with Wishes for Children to provide Christmas dinner baskets for 26 needy families that were “adopted.”

Pate and his “all volunteer staff” are constantly planning a whole calendar of charitable events that make our community’s children’s life better. 98% of every dollar raised goes back into the community and Pate oversees it all. Upcoming is a barbeque and then in August another golf tournament. September and October there are plans for concerts at a winery.

Charlie Pate’s life is committed to making a difference. His daily life consists of working towards that end. But with that being said he does love to golf and spends as much of his available free time on the course. Every morning he and his dog watch the news and take weekend rides together and whenever possible gaze at the stars at night. To be around Charlie Pate, even briefly, one can see the passion that he has for what he does as he continues to round up the resources necessary to provide smiles on the faces of as many children as he can.

Pate’s ability to mesh his passion for golf and his commitment to our children is just “Par for the Course”.

Just a note to Roving Winos excellent interview – TOT will be continuing to bring you interviews that highlight people in the community that are truly Makng A Difference.” Our goal is for the community to gain awareness, a better understanding of the local charity and encourage them to get pro active realizing that one person can affect many in a profound way. This month we highlight and support Wishes for Children’s Charlie Pate a great charity that could not be ran by a more caring, passionate man. “Charlie – We love You “ and you have made a big difference in this community and in the lives you touch. Ian Blafer CEO/TOT

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