Birthday Dreams (Renton, WA)

Name

  • Name:Chris Spahn
  • Title:Executive Director

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Birthday Dreams
  • Address:PO Box 2722
    Renton, WA 98056
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:425-988-3954
  • Main fax:(800) 557-7173

Organization Web

User Email

Location

Click map for a full size active view.

General

  • Mission:
  • Birthday Dreams is dedicated to bringing joy to homeless children with the gift of a birthday party.

  • Overview:
  • Birthday Dreams' vision is to ensure that every homeless child in the Puget Sound area experiences the joy of a birthday party on their special day. We believe that every child deserves a birthday celebration to remind them that the day they were born is special because they are special.

    Birthday Dream's target population is children and youth, ages 1 to 18 who are impacted by homelessness. The service we provide is very specialized: a birthday party that celebrates the child's birth, life and attainment of a particular age. We believe our intervention is crucial to this population because of the dire circumstances in which they are living and the likelihood that they would not otherwise be able to have a party.

    Whether living in a homeless shelter, in their car, in foster group homes or transitional housing; Birthday Dreams provides a full party experience with all the trimmings and gifts for children throughout Washington State’s King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Presently, we are the only organization providing this level of service through our two birthday celebration programs.

    We are a small grassroots agency with a committed roster of donors and volunteers who believe in our vision. Through our collective efforts, we have provided parties for 3,400 children (ages 1 to 18 years) since our inception in 2009. In 2014, we served 945 children and expect to serve about the same in 2015. We hope to increase this number significantly in 2016.

    Birthday Dreams has a very small, dedicated staff that is responsible for administrative and operational functions as well as supervision of the birthday celebration programs. Currently, key staff include: an Executive Director; Director of Operations; and an Office Manager. In addition, the State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) provides us with 1 to 3 interns through the Career Path Services program, which is designed to help individuals entering or returning to the employment arena acquire or improve their job skills through part time work. The interns work 20 hours per week, assisting with administrative tasks and some of the birthday party program activities. We also have partnerships with: Renton Technical College for students taking the Office Administrative Course; and the Northwest Center that serves persons with disabilities; J. Donley & Associates, which acts on behalf of Costco employees that have been injured on the job and need light duty assignments. The individuals from these organizations also provide administrative support and/or help with party related tasks.

    Birthday Dreams is very much a volunteer-supported organization. Our volunteers are crucial to getting the work done; essentially, they are the arms and legs of the organization. They serve in all capacities, including leadership (board and committees), administration, fundraising and direct service. Without our volunteers, Birthday Dreams would not be the vibrant and successful organization it has become. Our volunteers include public school and college students; young and older adults; families and community groups. They report positive benefits from supporting the agency's work. Working together on birthday projects provides an opportunity to develop new relationships and strengthen existing ones. Also, onsite parties create a friendly environment in which community members can interact and connect on a personal level with people dealing with the challenges of homelessness. The quality time that is spent at a party also helps strengthen both volunteers' and families' faith in the community.

    Providing birthday parties for as many as 970 individuals a year at more than 55 locations across three counties is an enormous body of work. It requires a great deal of coordination, resources and sheer will. Birthday Dreams has been effective because we are able to motivate and mobilize community members to work together with the organization and one another to serve people experiencing less fortunate circumstances; and we have been fortunate to partner with individuals and organizations that have a heart for homeless families. We are collectively committed to delivering high quality services to our target population for the long term.




  • History:
  • Birthday Dreams is unique in the Pacific Northwest. The organization was founded on the simple principle that children experiencing difficult life situations such as homelessness need a sense of hope and encouragement, and the belief that there are people who value and care about them. The founders, Chris Spahn and Shannon Avery passionately believed that the celebration of a child’s life one day of the year is a special event – doesn’t every child deserve that? They believed that having one special day to be free of all burdens and just enjoy the excitement of a birthday party would help homeless children weather the storms of their circumstances. To this end, Birthday Dreams was created.

    When the mission was first conceptualized, extensive research was conducted to determine if and how homeless children in the Puget Sound celebrated their birthdays. We found that in most instances, there were no resources being focused on providing birthday parties for this populations. Homeless parents did not have means to purchase gifts, much less finance a celebration with cake, ice-cream and guests. For those living in shelters or other temporary housing, these programs are understandably, more concerned with providing residents with food, housing, clothing, counseling and other critical services.

    In the past, there have been programs in some areas that helped with cakes, or furnished gifts, but no one organization provided an entire birthday party experience. To date, this is still true.

    Our organization continues to be very successful at achieving our mission. Our unique approach has attracted over 2000 volunteers and donors from all over the region to the cause; many of them have been with us the entire six years since our inception. They have a strong commitment to the work and our organization, which enables us to accomplish a great deal in spite of financial challenges.

    In addition to our donors and volunteers, we have maintained strong partnerships with businesses, government, schools, foundations and nonprofit agencies. Monetary and in-kind support from these organizations have sustained us through the years. For example, Foremost Printing has donated thousands of dollars in printing services; employees from local companies such as Microsoft, T-Mobile and Sam's Club volunteer together to support our party work; and we have strategic partnerships with businesses such as Coal Creek YMCA and The Microsoft Store in Bellevue Square Mall to provide locations for birthday party celebrations. Birthday Dreams was recently named Bonneville Media and the Seahawk's Charity of the Month for March, 2015; we view this as a strong indication that we are making a positive difference.

    Birthday Dreams has an excellent reputation among our partners and human services providers throughout the region. We value the relationship with all of our partners and our shared achievements.

    Over the past six years, Birthday Dreams has provided over 3,400 children with a birthday party, becoming an integral part of the homeless network. Our birthday celebration programs have come to mean a great deal to the families as well as our shelter provider partners. We have successfully responded to a community need through a service that brings a time of joy and affirmation to children impacted by homelessness and creates multiple opportunities for individuals from various backgrounds and circumstances to interact in a positive environment. We look forward to many more years of success.

  • Year established:2009
  • Endowment:Unknown

Staff

  • Executive / Trustee board size:8
  • Advisory board size:
  • Staff size:3

Registration

  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID: