givetwig year 2, week 27: this week i'm gonna... celebrate birthdays!
Lisa Vasiloff was raising her young sons in Newton, MA and attending a lot of amazing birthday parties. She began to wonder how less fortunate families celebrated their kids’ birthdays, so she called a local homeless shelter to ask.
“They said they really didn’t have the resources... and we asked if we could come in with our families once a month and throw a birthday party,” states Vasiloff.
Thirteen years later, Vasiloff remembers that first party like it was yesterday.
“Everybody was just so happy. The moms were grateful and happy and relaxed, and I thought, wow, this is awesome."
In addition to monthly community birthday parties, Birthday Wishes can also provide a birthday-in-a-box with items like party hats, cake, and decorations. Parents can use these boxes to throw their child a private party. Whichever celebration a parent chooses, Vasilloff says it all comes down to one simple idea: "Sometimes we forget that kids need to be kids and that kids absolutely need to experience joy. They need to laugh, they need to play."
Birthday Wishes’ mission is to provide birthday parties to children experiencing homelessness. They believe that all children, regardless of their living situation, should celebrate their birthdays joyfully, surrounded by family, friends, and others who care. Their grassroots philosophy fosters the spirit of volunteerism and community service in the adults, children, and families who donate their time and resources to the Birthday Wishes mission.
Since its founding in 2002, Birthday Wishes has celebrated birthdays for more than 45,000 kids. The organization now celebrates over 6,000 birthdays a year, serving over 200 shelters in New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
For more information on Birthday Wishes, please watch the video below.
To bring joy to that many kids, Lisa Vasiloff works hard behind the scenes. In a small room at a local church in Newton, MA, donations of children's toys, decorations, and stacks of donated cake mix tower over her. It's up to Vasiloff to weave through her inventory and make sure every party has what it needs.
For 2-year-old Roland Solo, the party thrown for him by Birthday Wishes was his first party ever; his mother had never had one either. "I want him to have the things that I never had when I was growing up," Roland's mom, Princess, states.
"It makes a huge difference in their life," Vasiloff says. "When they're the center of attention even for that little minute, when they're standing in front of the cake that has their name written on it... they do feel special, and that's the whole idea."
Notes for this week:
- July 4th is Independence Day -- Happy Birthday, America!
- Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor birthday parties for 25 children living in shelters.
- For more information on Birthday Wishes, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to Birthday Wishes.