Dreaming of Happy Birthdays on Second Saturday
Rafel Grijalva is the chair of the Emerging Leader Committee and is also on our Board of Directors. He works as a site merchandiser for Amazon.
I’ve lived in Seattle for the past 10 years and I see the face of homelessness on a daily basis. Whether it’s a tent pitched in the park or someone begging on the corner, Seattle is faced with an ongoing struggle to address and make progress against homelessness.
While I’ve known homelessness is a major issue and one United Way and others are working to address, this weekend, my eyes and heart were opened to another side of the homelessness crisis. While homelessness has the immediate impact of stripping individuals of a warm and safe place to live, it also can mean that sadly celebrations like birthday parties may no longer be a reality or priority. Birthday Dreams is changing that. On February 13, nearly 30 fellow colleagues from Amazon and United Way Emerging Leaders spent the morning volunteering with this incredible organization.
Birthday Dreams was founded with the mission of bringing joy to children experiencing homelessness with the gift of a birthday party. The organization believes in the simple principle that children must have this sense of hope, encouragement and belief that there are people who care so that they can weather the storms of their circumstances. Birthday Dreams brings a complete birthday party to homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities around King County. Parties include a birthday cake with the child’s name along with presents, party games, and party favors.
On Second Saturday we spent the morning decorating and assembling party favors. We started by decorating the bags with stickers and glitter. We then proceeded to fill them with toys and candy. After a couple hours of work, we’d assembled over 300 party favors and countless more bags for future volunteers. It was such an easy task, but so rewarding to think of the joy the simple party favors would bring to a child experiencing homelessness in Seattle. Every child in Seattle (and everywhere!) deserves a birthday party and I’m glad my fellow Emerging Leaders and I had a chance to play a small part in making that a reality.
The next Emerging Leader is our exclusive speaker event with Angela Stowell, the CFO of Ethan Stowell Restaurants. Snag your spot here. Birthday Dreams is always looking for volunteers and you can find out more on their FAQ page.