Building Hope, One Wish at a Time 2

Lisa Nussbaum and the North Texas Make-A-Wish Foundation Shine a Light Into the Lives of Suffering Children

Lisa and Gary Nussbaum, owners of Fort Worth’s AG Builders, have it made their business to realize the wishes of clients. As custom home builders, the Nussbaums channel their own talents and those of sub-contractors to accomplish the multi-layered complexity of one-of-a-kind dwellings. The home you’ve always wanted — both inside and out — constructed with accountability and the most exacting of standards: this is the business of AG Builders.

Thanks to the generosity of Lisa, Gary and the AG Builders crew, this business also functions as a means for philanthropy. Through a partnership with the North Texas chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Lisa and AG Builders work to realize the dreams of local children afflicted with life-threatening illnesses.

Lisa’s involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation extends deeper than her role as a wish-granter. She also serves on the foundation’s regional council and, along with her husband, helps with fundraising. Somewhat ironically, the Nussbaums’ exposure to Make-A-Wish happened not at a hospital or fundraiser, but at a bank.

“I was introduced to the Make-A-Wish Foundation through my banker at Sierra Bank,” says Lisa. “He asked if I would like to serve as AG Builders’s representative on the regional council, and I agreed.”

As a council member, Lisa meets with the Fort Worth chapter every month to discuss the chapter’s health and welfare, along with upcoming wishes. The Make-A-Wish Foundation functions nationally through local chapters. The North Texas chapter, headquartered at 3509 Hulen Street in Fort Worth, is its own 501(c)3 non-profit that works to grant wishes for children in 19 counties.

While many people associate the Make-A-Wish Foundation with celebrity meet-and-greets and other extravagant wishes, the Fort Worth office stays active with charity work large and small on a daily basis. Jessie Wente serves as the director of development for Make-A-Wish North Texas.

“Our Fort Worth office has both program staff and development officers,” says Jessie, “And we work closely with wish families and wish granters to bring wishes into fruition. We’ve granted 155 wishes so far this fiscal year, so you can imagine that the program team stays busy.”

The development team engages the North Texas community to make wishes happen through in-kind gifts and donations. Partnerships with entities such as Cook Children’s Hospital allow Make-A-Wish to identify eligible children, while wish-granters like Lisa Nussbaum and AG Builders donate the services to make wishes happen.

For their latest project with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, AG Builders have made one girl’s dream of the ultimate playhouse a reality. Katherine, a 12-year-old who lives in Denton, had a simple request: a backyard playhouse where she could practice her art and have fun with friends. Of course, as soon as Lisa and Make-A-Wish got involved, the idea for a playhouse quickly evolved into plans for a child-sized mansion.

The playhouse project illustrates the collaborative spirit of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and shows how people work together to make wishes happen. For example, Katherine’s playhouse depended on the contributions of several area businesses, including Flynn + Watson Architects, AG Builders, Teague Lumber and Ferguson Enterprises. Always one for close client partnerships, Lisa worked one-on-one with Katherine to design the playhouse’s interior and pick out furnishings.

“This has been memorable for me because this little girl has a heart of gold,” says Lisa. “She’s really tugged at my heartstrings because we share a common appreciation for art and design. This playhouse is going to be a sanctuary for her. At the end of the day, no matter what she’s going through, she’ll have an oasis.”

Lisa and the Make-A-Wish team have gone above and beyond on Katherine’s “playhouse,” which will feature air conditioning and heating, along with electric lights, a microwave and fridge.

“We like to take it a step further,” says Lisa. “We don’t know where to stop, and just want to bless these children. The greatest part is when they first see their wish come true. The look on their faces is priceless, and that makes everything we’ve done so worthwhile.”

Of course, you don’t need to be an architect or home builder to contribute to the happiness of an afflicted child. If you appreciate what the North Texas Make-A-Wish Foundation does, you can visit them at to donate money or find other ways to help.