Last year, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Devon (on Facebook--where else?!), a friend and fellow cheerleader from high school. I was beyond inspired when I learned that Devon founded a Phoenix, AZ based organization called Birthday Presence. It's mission it to "instill in each and every child that no matter where they are, and no matter what their circumstance, that they are indeed special, and are to be celebrated." Her home page reads: "Birthday Presence is a non-profit organization created with the sole intention of teaching foster children the value they add to the world through special and unique birthday parties. All too often, foster children do not even have their special day recognized, much less celebrated."
At Birthday Presence, they begin preparing for a party by meeting with each individual foster child. The group figures out what is meaningful to that person in order to make his or her party extra special. During this process, they make an effort to instill in each child the value he or she adds to the world. After the party, they meet with the child again, gifting them a a photo album of the event and once more expressing to each child his or her unmatchable value.
In addition to creating birthday parties, this foundation also assists with a unique experience that hosts sibling reunions for children in the foster system. Last summer Sibling Camp reunited 91 siblings from 35 sibling groups. During the week long camp, each child's birthday is celebrated. There, siblings choose gifts and make cards for one another. This is a story about one camper, written by Julie Turko, the Development Director at Aid to Adoption of Special Kids:
One 11-year old boy, for example, lives in a foster group home while his younger brother (now adopted) lives with a family. At first, this camper was acting out against his brother, and his counselors were on alert. This very bright boy tested boundaries but responded well to joking, patient attention and limits set by adults. He became more and more engaged during the week. At the last evening’s campfire, campers were encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings, and this young man was able to set his tough attitude aside. Through his tears, he thanked everyone for holding camp because his brother was the most important person in his life, and then for an hour following campfire this grieving boy sobbed with his counselor as powerful emotions took hold.
Now that you cannot wait even a nanosecond longer to get involved =), let me tell explain how you can help! If you happen to live in the Phoenix area, you can volunteer on the party planning team. As part of this team, volunteers pick up party supplies, decorate, and run the 60-90 minute party. During the last week of the month, a list of upcoming birthday children is posted on the website. The list includes a description of each child and their birthday wishes.
To all my Tucson family and friends, wouldn't it be fun to plan a party and travel up to Phoenix to host one of these beautiful children? I know our three year old would LOVE ,LOVE, LOVE to help me pick out supplies, plan, and then see the magic ensue. Also, what a phenomenal lesson it would offer our children, in teaching them compassion, selflessness, and obeying God's commands to care for the fatherless.
For those of us outside the local area, please consider a monetary donation to this worthy organization.
Another way you can support this organization is by visiting (and liking) their Facebook Page. If you're an Instagram user, you can follow Birthday Presence there, too!
And as with all things, the most important action we can take is through prayer. Please join me in prayer for Birthday Presence as they work diligently to help our foster children feel loved, needed, wanted, and extraordinarily special.
Thank you for inspiring Devon to create Birthday Presence, in order to celebrate our nation's foster children. Lord, You call us to take care of the fatherless. I praise you for Devon's faithfulness to this calling. I ask you to bless her organization and guide her vision. Please help us to support her effort to change the culture of the foster system, instilling value in these children. God, I ask you to help every child that is currently in the foster system to feel Your love and grace. Show them that You are their true and everlasting Father. Provide loving homes to house these children, and reunite them with their birth parents and siblings when a healthy environment is present. Lord, show us individually how we can support this mission, whether in hosting, monetarily, or in prayer. I ask all this in Jesus' precious name, Amen.
Scripture that supports Birthday Presence's mission
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." --2 Corinthians 9:6-8
“...and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” --Deuteronomy 14:29
“Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.” --Matthew 18:5