With a simple act of kindness, Birthday Wishes was founded in the fall of 2002 by three friends who organized a birthday party at the Second Step Shelter in Newton, MA, hoping to let their own children experience the joy of helping others. The guest of honor was a five year-old boy. Neither his mother nor the shelter could afford to throw him a party.
Now in its 14th year, Birthday Wishes serves children living in more than 200 family shelters and transitional living facilities across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Long Island, New York, thanks to some 500 volunteers every month. Over 34,000 homeless children, ages 1-17 years old, will experience a Birthday Wishes party in 2016.
A combination of anecdotal evidence, academic research, and program evaluation tells us that birthday celebrations build self-esteem and provide a sense of normalcy not often experienced by homeless children. The Birthday Wishes program ensures that every birthday child we serve knows the day he was born was a very special day.
All of our birthday parties are run by carefully trained and background-checked volunteers, who participate as individuals, families and groups. Our grassroots philosophy fosters the spirit of volunteerism and community service in the adults, children and families who donate their time and resources.
Birthday Wishes is the first organization in the country, and still the only one in New England, to provide this invaluable service.