Birthday parties are a childhood rite of passage. For the over 1.6 million homeless children in the U.S. though, birthday parties are rare. In Pittsburgh though, there are still candles. There a non-profit organization called Beverly's Birthdays is keeping birthdays an essential, memorable part of every childhood.
A recent finalist of GOOD Maker’s Stories for GOOD challenge, Beverly’s Birthdays delivers birthday extravaganzas to kids who need them most. In March 2011 founder Megs Yunn learned that a 12-year-old student named Beverly, who she met while volunteering at a local after-school program, had never had her own birthday party. Right there, Yunn made it her mission to serve Pittsburgh’s homeless youth under the motto, "Helping to spread birthday cheer 365 days a year!"
"Sadly, homeless children's birthdays, due to a variety of circumstances, are forgotten,” Yunn says. “Beverly’s Birthdays believes that every child deserves to be celebrated. We matter because these children matter. We let these children know that they are not forgotten.”
Since becoming a non-profit organization in February 2012, Beverly’s Birthdays partnered with the Sojourner House MOMS Program, a faith-based recovery home for moms. Each month, Yunn, her husband, and a crew of volunteers who serve as party staff, cupcake and cookie bakers, treat bag shoppers, and cheer squad members, organize a themed party for any child with a birthday during the select month. Past celebrations have been Super Hero, Beach Blast, Mad Scientist, and Party Diva-themed complete with pizza, a birthday cake, and an assortment of creative games, activities, desserts, and treat bags. On actual birthdays, Beverly’s sends each kid a personalized box filled with small gifts, candies, and trinkets.
Yunn has collaborated with the Homeless Children’s Education Fund (HCEF) to reach more shelters, and by January 2013, Beverly’s will be spreading birthday cheer to Auberle and Womansplace shelters. “I would love if Beverly’s Birthdays could be known as the birthday provider for all homeless youth in the Greater Pittsburgh region,” Yunn says.
Interested in fundraising, volunteering, or donating gifts and supplies? Send an email to getinvolved[at]beverlysbirthdays[dot]org.
Photos courtesy of Megs Yunn.