of Matching Funds Remaining
17 Dayton Street
S. Hadley, MA 01075
Birthday Wishes provides joyous children's birthday parties that improve happiness, hope & empowerment, to families experiencing homelessness.
Birthday Wishes was founded by three friends to inspire and involve their own children to become aware of social issues and give back. Believing that birthday celebrations build self-esteem and provide a sense of normalcy not often experienced by homeless children, they asked permission to throw a birthday party at a local homeless shelter. The guest of honor was a five year-old boy. Neither his mother nor the shelter could afford to throw him a party. That party inspired hundreds more in the years to come. Since its founding in 2002, Birthday Wishes has expanded its program to serve more than 200 shelters facilities throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Long Island, New York. In the Pioneer Valley, Birthday Wishes serves more than 4,000 homeless children living in 20 local shelters. Compared with low-income housed children, homeless children experience more health problems, developmental delays, depression, behavioral problems and lower educational achievement. Many of these children come from families with histories of poverty, substance abuse, and domestic violence. Because of the myriad complex and traumatic problems faced by homeless children, programs created to address them often overlook the simple act of providing joy and making a child feel loved and special, especially on their birthday. Yet celebrating milestones is essential to the healthy development of a child and the cohesion of families. Birthday Wishes is the first in the country, and only organization in Massachusetts which provides this important service. We believe that every child, regardless of their living situation, should have their birthday recognized and celebrated. During the 15 years we have been providing birthday parties for homeless children, we have found that something as simple and ‘normal’ as a birthday party has the power to make these children feel both special, and like a “regular kid”.