The mission of The Birthday Party Project is to celebrate the lives of children who are living in marginalized communities or suffering from recent emotional trauma through bimonthly surprise birthday parties and other forms of appreciation. We reach out to children who are in transitional living; in single-parent or foster homes; immigrants and refugees, etc. We hope that our efforts illuminate the transformative, healing power that is the joy of inclusion. So often the basic needs of the recipients are scarcely met, so it is vital to do something fantastically out of the ordinary for our participants.
This project is important to me: my father died from colon cancer when I was 9 and my classmates threw me a surprise birthday party the following year. It meant so much to me to be included, and I want to reach out to people who are facing difficult times in their lives.
The project was started by a seed grant from Youth Venture. The money was immediately put towards a fundraiser dance, which generated more funds. Organizing, planning, and hosting the birthday parties has been a “piece of cake” for The Birthday Party Project. Fundraising, conversely, has been more akin to whacking a piñata—it takes some hard knocks, mainly seemingly unfruitful, but all the mistakes usually lead to a big pay-off. In the past, the project has relied on event fundraising, which is inherently stressful, high-risk and time- and energy-consuming, especially considering how the organization itself is already based on birthday parties.
As I am settling into college this year as a freshmen, making time for the intense event-planning that The Birthday Party Project necessitates has been a challenge. In addition, since I will be transplanting the project to the Bay Area, I am rebuilding a base to support the project. This base will consist of volunteers, donors, and the network of social justice organizations from which the participants are recruited.
Special Thanks to:
- Ashley Bakre and Marilin Velez for their service on the original executive board
- Ms. Patricia Bresnahan, Mr. Edward Juillard, Ms. Patricia Helbig, and Ms. Elaine Mueller for their crucial recommendations
- Youth Venture, Nestle Very Best in Youth, and Kohl's Kids Who Care for their financial and moral support
- the Interfaith Refugee and Immigrant Ministries of Chicago for entrusting your wonderful group of kids in my care for a fun-filled day
- the entire St. Ignatius College Prep community, especially my friends, who have been supported the project since its inception
Much love to you all!