Take a moment and reflect on your greatest moment or achievement. Maybe you know that point in time instantly or maybe you have to think about it carefully. Who did you call first with the good news? Who did you celebrate with? Who helped you achieve that goal?
Now, reflect on a disappointment. An instance when you felt like you wanted to give up. Who encouraged you to keep going? Who held your hand and sat along side of you? Who told you that they loved you anyway and always would?
Now imagine your life without those people. How would your life be different?
The Past Is Painful, The Future Unsure
8,000 children are currently in foster care in the state of New Jersey. Many of these children were victims of abuse or neglect while others have lost a parent. Some wait alone, while others wait with siblings. For them, the past is painful and the future is unsure.
At A Birthday Wish, we believe that all children in New Jersey foster care deserve to know that their life matters and that they are truly special. We exist to give children in foster care a birthday gift and card selected specifically for them. In the process, we work to raise awareness about the issues surrounding foster care and advocate for better ways to serve these wonderful children.
Why is granting a birthday wish important? Fulfilling a special birthday wish says, the day you were born is a day to celebrate, and we acknowledge the unique person that you are. It also builds trust. A child in foster care has experienced the betrayal of broken promises. Allowing a child to ask for something special and to have that wish granted is a small step in learning that you can trust people in your life.
The Birth of A Birthday Wish
A Birthday Wish was born the way so many ideas are born. I just showed up. On a bright September morning in 2014 I took my three girls downtown to Westfield’s annual Festifall. In between bounce houses and funnel cake I found a booth setup by Court Appointed Special Advocates of Union County (CASA). CASA of Union County recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers to act as advocates for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and neglect. There I met Joanne Bennett, MA, Senior Advocate Supervisor, and we discussed the various needs of children in New Jersey’s foster care system. Sadly she reported many kids don’t receive a gift on their birthday, not even a simple, “Happy Birthday.”
A pilot partnership between CASA of Union County and A Birthday Wish was created. The incredible membership of The Tuesday Club of Westfield agreed to support A Birthday Wish and start granting wishes immediately. The outpouring of generosity and compassion from the community has been truly incredible; in a few months more than 100 wishes have been granted.
At A Birthday Wish our long-term goal is make sure that all 8,000 children in New Jersey foster care have a special gift and card to open on their birthday. Join me in granting a wish and celebrating a child today. Browse our list of birthday wishes still waiting to be granted or simply make a donation using our online donation form. Keep in touch: contact us and join our mailing list and like us on our Facebook page.