2018 birthday reflections

every year on my birthday, I like to take some time to give some serious thought to birthdays. 

while it could be argued that I do that literally all day, everyday, 365 days a year, there's something different about these few days.

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I get a little bit nostalgic and I wonder what life would be like without birthdays. without joy and love. without community. without celebration. joy is what gets us through the tough stuff. finding joy in those valleys isn't always easy - but it is critical. joy can have a long lasting impact on the heart. imagining a life without the hope we find in joy paints a bleak picture. it's a reality for too many children in richmond and it's my distinct privilege to be a part of an organization that fights every day for local children to be given the opportunity to celebrate and be surrounded by a joyful environment. 

when I think of the moments that I've experienced complete joy over the past year - while there have been a lot of them, theres a young girl, Shonique, who has been there for a number of them. 

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Shonique's birthday is April 29th. We've celebrated her for four years and on April 27th we'll have the chance to celebrate her birthday for the fifth year in a row. When she found out two years ago that my birthday was also in April, she declared us "birthday twins" and that we were meant to be sisters. and every time she sees me at school, on the playground, or in the community, she screeches at the top of her lungs "THAT'S MY BIRTHDAY TWIN!", loud and proud for everybody to hear. 

Shonique taught me two years ago that is was possible to find joy in everything. She celebrates the fact that someone was born was in the same month as her. If you can celebrate that, what can't you celebrate?! Her million-watt smile brings energy and love to my heart like no other. I know that any day I see her, is a good day. 

This year, I've decided that I want to wake up every day and be Shonique to someone. Be the light that someone else needs and bring joy into their life. I'm a firm believer that bringing joy into the lives of the people that surround you is one of lifes' simplest pleasures. 

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other favorite moments of joy? every child that shouts "this is the best birthday ever" because a volunteer took the time to put a party hat on and help her get across the monkey bars...hearing each rendition of "happy birthday" that we sing at every party.... watching dozens of kiddos blow out their candle and make a wish. 

I consider all of those things gifts from each one of you. it is because of you that our organization has the opportunity to impact childrens' lives in this way. it's my greatest joy in life to watch this mission come to life. thank each and every one of you for being an integral part in that. 

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it is fitting that we are launching our new celebrate ONE program today - a program that matches donors who sponsor a child each month with a different kiddo each month, giving you the opportunity to learn more about your impact. while we can't guarantee they will share their wish (after all, if you tell anyone what you wished for, it won't come true, right?!) but you will get to learn about their favorite memory from their party, why they love their birthday, and lots of other fun facts! we are so excited for you all to get to know our birthday kids like we get to at parties. 

this month, you'll meet Shoniqua. 

- head over here to learn more - 

but for now....

here's to 365 more days of celebration. 

 

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