While searching for volunteer opportunities for her family, that included a way for their children to actively participate and make them excited about volunteering, Shannon Avery and Chris Spahn had difficulty in finding an organization that suited them. They feel that it is important for their children to know that they can make a difference in others lives. They wanted their children to enjoy the volunteering so that it would be something they wanted to do, not something they were forced to do. Chris did a lot of research but came up empty-handed. Chris had just had a party for her daughter and wondered what families who are displaced do for their children’s birthdays. After a little more research, she discovered that there wasn’t anything in place, and most shelters don’t have the resources to do much if anything at all. So, Shannon and Chris decided to do what they could, starting with one shelter. Birthday Dreams was launched, and is now at 37 shelters.
Through Birthday Dreams, children can enjoy their birthday celebrations, regardless of their living situation. Birthday Dreams brings that to the child on their birthday. Birthday Dreams is a local, grassroots non-profit, that provides birthday parties to children who are homeless, live in shelters, or in foster or group homes. Shannon Avery, Co-Founder/Director of Operations, commented: “Birthday Dreams is volunteer driven. We are always looking for people who are willing to help with deliveries, cakes, wrapping gifts, etc. We have a working board, and several committees [with open positions].”
Birthday Dreams has 2 different birthday party programs: an onsite birthday party, and “Birthday in a Box.”. Through the 6 shelters that are able to host a party onsite, Birthday Dreams volunteers will play games, face paint, do a craft, have cake and ice cream, and presents for the birthday child/children, including goody bags for every child at the party. The core focus of our outreach is the “Birthday in a Box.” Boxes are filled with wrapped boxes of everything the family needs to have a party for their child. It includes all party supplies, hats, blowers, cake, juice, birthday presents ($25-35 price range), and goody bags for the guests. Birthday Dreams contracts with 37 area shelters (from Everett to Tacoma), and Birthday Dreams is also on 211, which is an information hotline for people who need help.
Shannon commented: “I just love what we do at Birthday Dreams. I feel like we make a difference in these children’s lives. We do our best to make sure that each child gets to have their Birthday Dream come true. Our volunteers are amazing! We become very close, like a family. They all have such great hearts and just love helping fulfill birthday dreams.”
There are many ways to help support Birthday Dreams. Supply drives, donations of cash, in-kind donations and of course volunteering at their parties, office or delivering. Every little bit helps. A flyer is available for download, for more information on getting involved and our resources.
For more information, please visit: www.birthdaydreams.org, call: 425.988.3954, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com
Edited by Reba Winstead, editor for Tacoma.com