Birthdays = Joy

Recently, I have started to do work with Spare Change News – a Cambridge based street newspaper, committed to covering the topics of homelessness, poverty, resistance and culture in the Boston area and empowering homeless and impoverished citizens through employment as newspaper vendors. Last week the paper sent me along with a writer Haley Hamilton to Newton, MA to visit a wonderful organization called Birthday Wishes, which organizes birthday parties for homeless children. We met with Lisa Vasiloff, a cofounder and executive director of Birthday Wishes, who lights up and smiles every time she talks about her organization or children it serves.

From the NGO’s website www.birthdaywishes.org: “Founded in 2002 as a volunteer organization serving one local shelter, Birthday Wishes has expanded its program to serve more than 200 shelters and transitional living facilities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Long Island, New York. ” The organization believes that birthday parties bring homeless kids joy, lasting memories and contribute to self-esteem. This year Birthday Wishes anticipates that as many as 34,000 children will attend its parties.

Here are some images from our visit. You can read more about Birthday Wishes in this week’s issue of the Spare Change News or online.

Lisa Vasiloff, Cofounder & Executive Director of Birthday Wishes, poses for a picture at the NGO's main office in Newton, Massachusetts on Wednesday November 18, 2015. Birthday Wishes is a NGO that organizes birthday parties for homeless children in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Long Island, New York.
Birthday Wishes' intern Heather Coen (left) and Gail Bellefontaine, Party Coordinator for Northern Massachusetts, assemble and wrap gifts for upcoming parties at the NGO's main office in Newton, Massachusetts on Wednesday November 18, 2015.
Lisa Vasiloff, Cofounder and Executive Director of Birthday Wishes, chooses crafts supplies for an upcoming Thanksgiving themed party at the NGO's main office in Newton, Massachusetts on Wednesday November 18, 2015.
Jill Glazer, a long time Birthday Wishes' volunteer, assembles goodie bags for future parties at the NGO's main office in Newton, Massachusetts on Wednesday November 18, 2015.
Heather Coen, intern, from left, Lisa Vasiloff, Cofounder & Executive Director, Susan Haviland, Associate Director, and Sarah Hennessy, Greater Boston Program Coordinator, pose for a picture at the Birthday Wishes' main office in Newton, Massachusetts on Wednesday November 18, 2015.