PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – To a child, a birthday is one of the most important things in the world, and a birthday party is always a special memory. However, some kids don’t get a birthday party because they’re homeless.
Now, a Pittsburgh woman is working to change that so all kids can have a happy birthday.
Her name is Megan Yun, mostly known as Megs, or Miss Megs to the children. She was inspired to create Beverly’s Birthdays, a non-profit organization that puts on birthday parties for children living in homeless shelters and transitional housing, after she was tutoring an 11-year-old girl named Beverly.
“I was helping her with her reading homework,” Yun said, “and she didn’t know the word ‘accustomed to.’ So, I gave her an example. I said, ‘Beverly, at birthdays, people are accustomed to eating what?’ And she looked at me at 11-years-old and said, ‘Miss Megs, I’ve never had a birthday party.'”
Megs found that’s not unusual for homeless kids and their parents.
Markita Clark was one of the moms at a Beverly’s Birthday party at Sojourner Health Moms. She said she never had birthday parties when she was a child.
“My mother, may she rest in peace, she was an alcoholic so it was kind of difficult, and I always had to be the grownup in the household being the only child,” Clark said.
She thanks Beverly’s Birthdays for these parties and says it would have been hard for her to afford to put on a big party for her own kids.
“I’m a recovering addict, and I took a lot of joy out of their life, you know what I mean, with my addiction,” Clark said. “But now that I’m clean and sober, now it’s me able to put joy back into it with the support of the Beverly’s program.”
Beverly’s Birthdays puts on a full party — complete with a theme, pizza, cake, crafts and games. Each child with a birthday that month at that shelter gets to be the guest of honor, and all the families at the shelter are guests. Beverly’s Birthdays also provides birthday gifts for each child, which they receive on their actual birthday.
At the party at Soujourner Health Moms in June, it was a Safari theme with an animal show by the Wild World of Animals, which the kids and adults loved.
“I like that I got to pet the snake. That was cool,” said Gabe, who was celebrating his eighth birthday.
Right now, Beverly’s Birthdays is an all-volunteer organization, funded with donations and grants. They are in seven shelters in the area, but are hoping to expand to 18 more in the area.
Yun is seeking funding to expand and to get paid staff.
“The work that we do matters because were creating memories, and memories are the most important thing that anyone has,” she said.
The memory of our own birthday parties is something many of us take for granted, but not these families.
“Just to see the kids face glow in excitement like today with the animals, it was wonderful,” Clark said. “That was the icing on the cake.”
To expand, they’ll need more support. If you’re interested in helping, visit their website here: http://www.beverlysbirthdays.org/