Photo by Kellen M. Quigley
William Pabst (second left), of Springville, was a recent recipient of a gift from Senior Wishes’ annual Simple Wishes for the Holidays campaign. With Pabst when presented with his gift was June Dziak (from left), Concord Town Supervisor Clyde Drake and Wendy Miller Backman, executive director of Senior Wishes.

By Kellen M. Quigley

During the season of giving, an area non-profit organization recently helped one local senior acquire an item on his wish-list just in time for the holidays.

William Pabst, of Springville, was presented with a gift last week at the Concord Senior Center from Senior Wishes as part of its second annual Simple Wishes for the Holidays campaign.
“We want to recognize our seniors,” said Wendy Miller Backman, executive director of Senior Wishes. “Sometimes they’re a forgotten population, and we want them to know if there’s something they still want to do, somewhere they want to go or someone they want to see, we’re here to help them.”

For Simple Wishes, the organization’s team of volunteers delivers a wrapped gift and card to each senior and also spent time visiting with them.

These inexpensive gifts could include a small household item, books, supplies for a hobby or just something special to brighten their day.

Pabst received a new angle grinder and cut-off tool, something he plans to use frequently.

“Before you weld something, you can use this to grind it down,” he said. “And the other thing you can do is it has cutting wheels you can put on it so then you can cut steel with it.”

“He used his other one so much it burned out,” said June Dziak, who joined Pabst for the presentation. “He was all ready to go out and use it, but I had to tell him don’t open it yet.”

Pabst said a friend gave him a barrel to make a burning barrel out of and he was all set to use the tool to cut some air holes in it until he found out he had to wait until after the presentation.

“I’m glad that you’re going to get good use out of it,” Backman said.

“It will be used all the time,” Dziak added. “He loves to go out in his garage and putter around.”

For the past five years, Senior Wishes has been working to help seniors in Erie and Niagara counties check wishes off their bucket lists, Backman explained. The entire operation is funded through private donations.

“We have a wish-granting committee that meets every other month,” she explained. “They decided which wishes are going to be approved, and then we go to work granting those.”

Last year, Senior Wishes delivered more than 60 gifts to seniors, most with little or no family, during the inaugural Simple Wishes for the Holidays. Backman said they have 90 planned for this year.
Unlike the regular Senior Wishes, the Simple Wishes recipients could not nominate themselves, but had to be nominated by others.

“Bill was nominated for a wish and we were happy to grant that for him,” Backman said.

Since 2014, it has granted nearly 200 wishes to seniors in the greater Buffalo area.

“But that’s not even half of what we’re really doing,” Backman said, since group wishes count as one and the Simple Wishes for the Holidays is a separate count.

Backman said they recently granted wishes to two of their oldest recipients, a 109-year-old woman and a 104-year-old man.

“You start to see the impact you make on them,” Backman said. “It’s just such a touching way to see these seniors who are a lot of times forgotten.
Senior Wishes is always looking for senior to grant wishes to. Seniors do not need to be sick or have a medical diagnosis to apply. Before a wish is granted to a senior, he or she must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a resident of Western New York;
  • 65 years of age or older; and
  • Annual income must be less than $38,000 for a household of one or $44,000 for a household of two, or a permanent resident of a care facility.

For more information or to nominate a senior, contact Wendy Miller Backman at 508-2121 or visit