A Birthday Celebration

Hi there, y’all!

It’s been a little while since I’ve been around here…but I have a good reason, I promise.

Four years ago, when I founded celebrate! RVA in the commons of my high school, I would have never dreamed of where I would be today. It was a once-a-month birthday celebration that seemed impactful enough – but deep down, I knew we were capable of more. So we dreamt big and now….

We throw at least one birthday party a week, if not more. I manage a team of 100+ volunteers every week, coordinate meetings with potential donors and partners, maintain social media, donor management, PR, the IRS and trying my best to keep my inbox to under 50 unread emails.

This all to say, I’ve been busy. And I missed my annual birthday post. I’ve done it since the beginning and I wanted to make sure y’all knew that I haven’t forgotten about this little space. I still reflected on my birthday this year and this is what I’ve got for you. Might want to grab a bottle of wine and get ready for a doozy.

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Fate Fotos

From April 2015-April 2016, I think it is fair to say that my life was a bit of a roller coaster. The highest of highs (i.e., celebrating 1000 children, being named on The Prospect’s 20 Under 20 list, getting away on my first vacation in 3 years, working with countless, amazing RVA folks, bringing on the worlds most amazing assistant, and expanding to DC) and the lowest of lows.

While the lows are not all mine to share, they are certainly what most affected me in the past year. Time and time again, it felt like I was being barrel-rolled, never given the chance to stand back up, dust off, and prepare to be knocked down again.

But after a while, God showed up. and God showed up BIG.

We were given the opportunity of a lifetime to begin celebrating in DC with children who desperately need love and joy in their lives. After gaining insight on their lives and their day-to-day, it became clear that these children were truly intimidated by environments of joy. It is something that is so critical to child development, and they had been, simply put, deprived. Deprived of a true childhood in countless regards, from parental involvement to basic hygiene to education.

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Fate Fotos

But, birthdays? A birthday is so….human. It is something everyone has. and it is something everyone deserves to recognize. Birthdays are a time of celebration and love. A time to celebrate both the highs and lows of the year. A time to celebrate the joy that has surrounded you, and the love you’ve had to surround yourself with during the rough times. A time to celebrate your life and who you’ve become in the past year. A time to celebrate what your future holds.

For our children who do not even know their own birthday, they have never had the chance to celebrate their lives and who they have the potential to become. There is no special celebration of their accomplishments, no acknowledgment of the fact that they’ve spent another year beating the odds.

Our children deserve to be loved and deserve to be told that they matter, that they are important, and that our community cherishes them.

That is why we are expanding so quickly. There are countless children out there – children who don’t know the date they were born on, who do not comprehend the concept of a birthday candle – because they’ve never been told to make a wish before.

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Taylor Lynn Photography

Our birthday children desperately need joy in their lives, and we hope that your heart will be moved to help us do just that. I’m asking you to consider how you feel on your birthday – and give so that others may feel that same way.  Will you make a wish alongside me? A wish that is meaningful and important. Wish with me that every child in Richmond, D.C, and wherever we find this organization next, that every child may feel loved and celebrated.

With lots of birthday love,

Julia