We believe that there is no singular location, area, agency, or partnership that serves all the children that we desire to serve. That is why we are committed to reaching children wherever they may be. Our partnerships include Richmond Public Schools, Henrico Public Schools, ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation, Safe Harbor, The Doorways, World Pediatric Project, and the Salvation Army.
Richmond Public Schools + Henrico County Public Schools
Our partnership with Richmond Public Schools and Henrico Publics Schools allows us to throw monthly birthday celebrations for every child in the select schools we partner with, giving our organization the opportunity celebrate over 960 children in the two school systems.
ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation
Through our work with ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation, we host two different celebrations. Twice a year, we host a birthday party for survivors who are in remission, but are facing a new battle. The struggle to catch up in school, reintegrate with peers, and get back to a normal life is sometimes overwhelming for children who have spent the majority of their life fighting for the next day. Our goal is to play a small part in establishing normalcy after that; a break from the stress of readjustment to life. Such breaks are not a privilege. They are a necessity.
Our other celebrations with ASK are for the children who are currently fighting their battle. Once a month, at the ASK Oncology Clinic at VCU, we celebrate children who are currently in treatment. Giving them an opportunity to recognize the importance of their lives and perhaps give them their last birthday memories, these parties are as much for the families as they are for the child. No parent wants to see their child battling cancer and our birthday parties give the family a chance to see their child as a just that: a child. Not a patient, not a research trial participant: but a child. A child who had a life before their diagnosis. For one hour, they get that to have that back.
An unfortunately reality in Richmond, many children are displaced by domestic and/or sexual violence in their homes. These families find sanctuary at the Safe Harbor Human Trafficking Shelter. There are few children who need to feel the love that a birthday party brings more than these. We partner with Safe Harbor to celebrate the lives of 10-15 kids each year. Although all of our parties are meaningful; these celebrations are especially moving knowing the dire and traumatic situations these families have survived.
Doorways, World Pediatric Project, Ronald McDonald House
At The Doorways, formerly Hospital Hospitality House, we celebrate children who are either receiving treatment at VCU Health or are accompanying a parent or guardian for their treatment. In partnership with World Pediatric Project, a global organization that brings children from impoverished countries to America for quality medical care, any child that comes to VCU Health through World Pediatric receives a birthday party as well. These events are integral to establishing normalcy in a foreign place and giving the child a safe place to experience joy and love. The kind of medical situations these children are facing are life-threatening and put a significant financial strain on their family. The simplicity of a birthday celebration can help relieve that stress and establish a joyful environment for the child. Serving these children who are facing homelessness, medical emergencies, and other traumatic experiences is a privilege for our organization.
At the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter, we serve women and children who have lost their home or other form of stable shelter. They’ve come to the Salvation Army in search of food, a support system to get out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness, but most importantly, a safe place to lay their head at night. With this partnership, we seek to involve the mother as much as possible, giving her an important role in the birthday party. Our sincere hope is that we give the mother and her family all that they need to create joyful memories and allow them to execute the party as they see fit. We bring in all that is needed for activities and games, food, presents, but giving the mother the opportunity to offer that all to her child is an integral part of assuming ownership and the power to impact her own child’s life.