When kids think of birthdays, what comes to mind? Parties, presents and a great cake, most likely.
Yet more than 2,000 kids in Pittsburgh never get the chance to experience any of those birthday novelties.
Meg Yunn set out to change that.
Yunn was volunteering at an afterschool program for at-risk children in the city when she met a 12-year old girl named Beverly. While helping Beverly with a homework problem where she had to use the phrase “accustomed to” in a sentence, Meg prompted, “At a birthday party people are accustomed to eating what?”
“I’ve never had a birthday party or my own birthday cake," said Beverly.
“Beverly will never know how much her one sentence moved me,” Yunn says.
From that encounter, Beverly’s Birthdays was created as a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating the birthdays of homeless children in the Pittsburgh region.
Yunn began her campaign in June 2011 when she submitted her idea for spreading birthday cheer to the “BE BIG in Your Community Contest” sponsored by Scholastic. She won first place out of 1000-plus entries and was awarded a starter grant to kick off her mission.
With seed money to put her idea into motion, the first Beverly’s Birthday party was thrown in February of this year, in partnership with Sojourner House MOMS for three girls at Sojourner House in East Liberty. The organization provides faith-based residential recovery for moms. Most recently, the Beverly’s Birthday team has formed a partnership with the Auberle House of McKeesport, as well.
The volunteers, better known as the “Cheer Squad,” fill a decorated birthday box with candy, trinkets and other fun items for the birthday child to receive on their special day. In addition, the Cheer Squad visits the shelter one day a month to celebrate the birthdays that month with all the children residing there.
“I love the fact that we are bringing joy to these kids lives on their special day, a day they wouldn’t be able to have without Beverly’s Birthdays,” says Yunn, who was formerly director of volunteer programs at Washington & Jefferson College.
Want to get involved? Visit Beverly’s Birthdays website
for volunteer opportunities ranging from baking cakes to sponsoring a birthday party.
Writer: Alanna Haefner, Pop City intern
Source: Meg Yunn and Katelyn Livingston, Beverly’s Birthdays