Why Birthdays Matter

Writing a blog post on my birthday has become one of my most favorite traditions. It gives me time to reflect on the past year as well as to share the heart behind celebrate! RVA. While I strive to always share the special moments and why I cherish every moment of my job — my birthday gives me the excuse to really reconnect with our mission.

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My birthday always humbles me. It leaves me speechless that people take the time out of their lives to send a card, leave a voicemail, send flowers, and share their love. My birthday reminds me of my purpose in life. celebrate! RVA believes in spreading joy and creating a community full of celebrations. We believe in meaningful birthday parties where every child has the opportunity feel love.

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We believe that every child deserves a party. Regardless of their families income, their parents incarceration, their grades in school — it doesn’t matter during a birthday party. What matters is this: we leave children feeling loved and cherished. Every child is worthy of a celebration. Each child should be able to celebrate the day they took their first breath and forever made their mark on the world. It is the day that their impact on our community became tangible.

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Over this next year, a lot of really exciting changes and plans are in the works for celebrate! RVA. I can’t wait to share them with you. Because this year, I’m making a wish. I know you’re not supposed to share wishes, but I’ve clearly never really cared to follow the rules of life so here goes: I wish to celebrate every child in Richmond. I want to love on every birthday child who feels unwanted. I want to throw confetti and blow candles out. I want to create joy, and I want you to join me. So for my birthday, will you fill out a volunteer form here? Come along with us — I promise lots of cake, confetti, but most importantly, joy, will be involved.

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February and March 2015

It’s been a whirlwind two months. But it culminated on March 20th with an amazing party. We welcomed VCU soccer back (we aren’t letting them leave us to play soccer ever again!), friends from Randolph-Macon College, and the Richmond Police Department.

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Celebrate RVA 3.20.15-77The joy could be felt, it was simply indescribable. We had RPD Captains, Lieutenants, Majors (oh my!) and even the Chief of Police. Chief Durham jumped right into the festivities, without missing a beat. Then, he took the time to sing Happy Birthday to our kiddos. Y’all — Richmond is beyond blessed to have such a caring and thoughtful man leading the Police Department.

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Celebrate RVA 3.20.15-28How many times have you celebrated your birthday with a football game with a police officer, who also took the time to teach you how to throw and sing you happy birthday?!

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Celebrate RVA 3.20.15-50Looking back at these photos (from the amazing Steven Inge, per the usual), I cried some of the happiest tears I have in a while. With my own birthday in just a few days, I was in awe at the joy that we’ve had the privilege of creating in the part two years. These celebrations are about so much more than just a birthday party. They’re about blowing out a candle and making a wish for the next year. They’re about community and new friendships. They’re about celebrating precious lives.

I feel a great sense in pride in each of my volunteers. The impact they make on our birthday children is something that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Celebrate RVA 3.20.15-42(This particular one is from Texas and takes her football very seriously.)Celebrate RVA 3.20.15-18

Celebrate RVA 3.20.15-40Thank you all for your enthusiasm to celebrate! RVA. Go ahead and make a wish. Celebrate RVA 3.20.15-94

January 2015 Birthday Party Recap

Last Friday we had our first birthday party for the 2015 calendar year, and we were psyched to see it unfold!

I made a goal for myself and it was this — to reconnect with our children. Birthday parties are crazy for me, I sometimes get so busy dealing with the logistics and coordination, I forget to stop and celebrate. My volunteers are there to do that, and I forget that I need to be out there, hands on, as well.

Even though I was pretty sick, I kept my goal in mind — and ohmygoodness, what fun we had!

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I am always stunned and taken aback by the sparkle these children have in their eyes, and their hearts. Every moment is so magical, when you stop and look at it through their perspective.

(All these photos are, again, from the phenomenal Steven and Lily Photography. The joy they capture at every event always amazes me — thank you for your dedication and endless support of celebrate! RVA.)

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There was lots of sliding with this sweetheart — her smile was positively infectious and her giggle could have warmed the coldest hearts.

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The children seemed to discover bubbles this event and I can’t tell you how thrilling they found chasing every bubble blown :)

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This was our first event with some wonderful volunteers from Randolph-Macon Football Team. We absolutely loved playing football and learning some news plays with new friends!

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As always, our sweet volunteers from University of Richmond Men’s Lacrosse were incredible. I can’t speak highly enough about this teams leadership and volunteerism. I could not imagine better role models for our birthday children! We have a few exciting things up our sleeves planned with the team in the future, I can’t wait to share more!

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Our parachute continues to be a fan favorite…the joy and laughter that comes from this will never not astound me :)

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Our friends from Richmond Police Department stopped by and let us turn on allllll the sirens…God Bless them! Can we get Aleve to sponsor this activity?

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I think we’ve found the best free entertainment — asking the kids to teach us how to dance. Y’all, I wouldn’t be surprised if videos of this surfaced and we became #internetfamous. We looked 100% ridiculous, but I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world!

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I got to sit next to this sweetheart and get to watch her blow out her candle and tell me all about her wishes for the next year. AMAZING. Pretty sure this girl is going to rule the world one day.

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I love this picture so, so much. Genesis wanted a special birthday card (even though I explained everyone got their own at the end, she still wanted one — and I was not about to deny her that!). She asked if she could decorate one for me, and even though it wasn’t my birthday, it sure felt like it was. I can’t think of any present that could be more special than seeing the goodness and giving spirit that is in each one of these children.

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Ready for a shocker? We wrapped up the party with a little more dancing and celebration.

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Before we wrap this (long) post up, I have one final person to thank. For the past year and a half, one of our board members, Diana Hinckley, has been at every party, face painting every child. Diana recently accepted a new job, and will be unable to attend our birthday parties as a face painter. While we are saddened to see her go, seeing her dedication to this program has been downright inspiring and I’m forever grateful for the relationships and smiles she made. Every child who sat in her chair left with a smiles on their face, and joy in their hearts. Thank you, Di.

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This party was definitely one for the books — thank you to everyone who made it happen.

Another Year to Celebrate

Happy New Year!

2014 was quite the year for celebrate! RVA. We embarked on our second year of celebrating our friends down at Oak Grove Bellemeade, continued our partnership with Safe Harbor, and became an official 501(c)(3).

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(Steven and Lily Photography)

Here’s to another year of sweet celebrations. Another year of giving joy and love to children around Richmond. Another year of inspiring wishes, insane fun, and incredible volunteers.

Let’s #celebrateRVA.