The Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place

The Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place

Where Wishes Have A Place To Call Home

The Wishing Place is the only one of its kind. It provides an environment that is free of limitations, confinement, and stress. It stimulates the imagination and reveals to seriously-ill children the imaginative possibilities of a wish. 

Children often come to Make-A-Wish® at a frightening time in their lives. It’s a time when playing, learning, and laughing is all too often replaced with uncertainty, hospital visits and medical treatments. Based especially on the fact that so often a child’s imagination is limited and stifled by their illness or environment, we sought to create our own space.

As our chapter discussed the possibility of building a Wishing Place, we convened a group of medical professionals including doctors, nurses, child-life specialists, and social workers; they reaffirmed their belief that Make-A-Wish often picks up where science and medicine leave off and wholeheartedly supported the special project.

We developed a focus group of wish kids, looking for insights into ways we could enhance their wish experience. A vision emerged for a new home for Make-A-Wish New Jersey. That vision asked that it resemble a structure that symbolizes enduring strength but is also magical…In short, our wish kids wanted a place they could call their very own—they asked for a castle!

With a team of architects, interior designers, engineers, and general contractors, our board, dear friends, and donors stepped forward to meet the challenge from our wish kids...

I believe in Make-A-Wish. I believe in these children...
Joe Plumeri
Lead Donor & Honorary Chairman

Taking The Vision & Making It A Reality 

Funding 

The Samuel & Josephine Wishing Place was funded solely through private, philanthropic donations. The project was completed without government funding and without taking a single penny away from wish granting. 

The cornerstone donation was a $2 million donation from Joe Plumeri, Chairman and CEO of Willis Group Holdings, which he then increased to $3 million after becoming more involved with Make-A-Wish and further inspired by the children we serve. This was the first seven figure gift in the history of Make-A-Wish®, nationally or internationally, and helped bring a Wishing Place from a vision to a reality. The official name of the building is the Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place, after Mr. Plumeri’s parents. 

“In everyone's life, at some point, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful then, for those people who rekindle the true inner spirit.”

- Albert Schweitzer

We will forever be grateful to all who have made this magical building possible. For surely we know, it is a place to rekindle the inner spirits of all wish children who pass through these halls. 

Land & Location 

As plans for the Wishing Place were put into motion, we recognized it was essential to find a location that was accessible to all of our wish children. Fortunately, we found a perfect plot of land in the centrally located Middlesex County. The land is in an ideal location and surrounded by beautiful forestry, which served as inspiration for our interior designs. 

The land on which the castle sits was donated by Jack Morris, CEO of Edgewood Properties. Mr. Morris initially donated a seven-acre parcel, but as he became more involved with Make-A-Wish and inspired by the mission, he increased the donation to 14 acres. 

“Joe, you’re an incredible guy. This would have been a vacant piece of land if it weren’t for you. I can’t thank you enough because you’ve given me an opportunity to do such a beautiful thing.”

- Jack Morris
About Joe Plumeri, at the Grand Opening ceremonies 

Grand Opening

Make-A-Wish® New Jersey officially opened the doors of the Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place during a grand opening ceremony on December 2, 2011. 

“This castle, and its three spires, now serve as beacons of the hope, strength, and joy that brings our mission to life for children who face life-threatening illnesses. They know Make-A-Wish is here for them.”

Tom Weatherall
President & CEO

Wish kids at the grand opening of the Wishing Place

Inside The Castle

The Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place provides spaces for “making” a wish in an unforgettable setting, for sharing and celebrating a wish experience with family and friends, for volunteer training, family gatherings, and for office and conference space.

Areas of the Castle: 
  • Crowley Family Entryway 
  • Christian Joseph Plumeri Welcome Hall 
  • Jack and Sheryl Morris Wing 
  • The Bolte Family Theater with the Marino Stage 
  • Expansive courtyard 
  • Pond of Hope 
  • Administrative Wing 
    Stained glass inside the Wishing Place

    Stained-glass window images inspire visitors.

      The Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place provides spaces for “making” a wish in an unforgettable setting, for sharing and celebrating a wish experience with family and friends, for volunteer training, family gatherings, and for office and conference space. 

      The excitement visitors feel as they approach the Wishing Place only grows once they are inside the castle. 

      As soon as the front doors open visitors are met with magical sights and sounds. The Crowley Family Entryway introduces the whimsical theme with heraldic banners and faux-medieval wall tapestries, decorated with fantastical animals such as friendly dragons and unicorns. 

      Just beyond the Entryway, the Christian Joseph Plumeri Welcome Hall, with a double-height atrium and a large floor maze, invites children to wander and play in an open yet protected space, as guests take in the images of fantastical gardens with views to the real forest and pond outside. 

      Every detail was carefully considered before it became part of the Wishing Place. We didn’t want our wish children to just see their visions; they needed to see themselves to know this is truly their special castle. 

      The colorful, stained-glass window images picture princes, princesses, knights, and wizards in recognizable ways, like this prince who is in a wheelchair. 

      Down the Jack & Sheryl Morris Wing, exists The Bolte Family Theater with the Marino Stage. This space can be used for special performances, volunteer trainings, wish family gatherings, bon voyage celebrations, wish deliveries and the endless possibilities of other types of special celebrations. 

      The expansive courtyard and the Pond of Hope offer a beautiful setting for gatherings from wish family picnics to formal Galas, and everything in between. 

      The Avallone Board Room, Perry Conference Room, and the workstations are tucked away in the Administrative Wing, allowing our staff to focus on the mission and accomplish daily responsibilities in a quiet and professional environment. 

      Magical moments happen every day inside the castle. We enthusiastically welcome the public to visit the Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place to learn more about the mission of Make-A-Wish and experience the magic firsthand. If you are interested in visiting the castle with family and friends, or members from your school, workplace, or organization, please call 609-371-WISH (9474). 

      Wishing Place Exterior

      “We are so overtaken by the magnitude and the beauty of this wish-granting facility and the magnitude and the beauty of all that this facility is going to do!”

      - Kathleen & Phil Ciarco
      Capital Campaign Chairman 

      Special Areas For Wish Children 

      When wish children visit the Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place, they will know this one-of-a-kind castle is a place built for them. The special areas designated for the wish making experience are at the heart of the building, designed to stimulate the imagination and reveal the extraordinary possibilities of a wish when life is offering only escalating limitations. These areas create just the right environment to bring the special brand of Make-A-Wish magic to our wish children.

      Click the room names below to learn more.

      Chris Greicius Inspiration Room

      Made possible by a generous gift from Phil and Kathleen Ciarco

      The Inspiration Room is named for the child who, in 1980, wished to be an Arizona highway patrolman and whose experience later inspired this organization. In the Inspiration Room, wish children can contemplate the opportunity that lies before them and consider their fondest wish. The myriad images surrounding them in this room were created to stimulate their imaginations, without influencing, and allow them to think beyond the limits of their current condition and environment.

      Inspiration Grove

      Made possible by a generous gift from Somerset Patriots and Steven & Suzanne Kalafer

      Wish children and their families will journey through Inspiration Grove, a pathway surrounded by life-size flowers and a canopy of trees, on their way to the Wishing Room.  Amid the sound effects of an enchanted forest, a wish child can anticipate his or her wish as they view inspirational stories of children whose wishes were previously granted.

      The Wishing Room

      Made possible by a generous gift from Phil and Kathleen Ciarco

      The act of wishing should be a uniquely magical moment, an event that is somehow out of the ordinary, taking place in a thematic environment free of limitations, confinement, or stress. Inside the Wishing Room, the child will experience an enchanted and transformational environment and answer the magical question, “If you had one wish, what would it be?”

      Teen Lounge

      Made possible by a generous gift from the Berardo Family

      Recognizing that teenagers have different needs than younger children, the Teen Lounge is a special room that will allow older wish children to experience the wish process in an equally special and age-appropriate way.