We believe in the power of a birthday. You’ve probably heard us say that and read it in our social media postings and on our website. Birthdays are powerful reminders to children that they are valued, and birthdays are opportunities for families to strengthen their bond while creating memories together, despite being homeless.

But what you may not know is that the power of a birthday also positively affects the lives of everyone who is associated with Extra-Ordinary Birthdays (EOB), including our executive team, volunteer staff, partners, and even YOU…our supporters! There is just something magical about a birthday celebration, as we learned when we sat down with Aryana Briner, one of our youth volunteers.

Aryana came to us two years ago when she was searching for a pageant platform, and when we saw her enthusiasm and dedication to our cause, we decided to give her a regular volunteer position—we made her our Extra-Ordinary Wishes Ambassador! As you may know, Aryana’s regular role with EOB is collecting and transcribing your wishes for homeless children for our permanent Wishing Wall. Soon, Aryana decided she wanted to do even more (pretty common among our volunteers and supporters!). Aryana’s own wish was to go into shelters with us and work directly with our client group—families and children experiencing homelessness. But there was just one problem: An EOB volunteer must be at least 16 to visit the homeless shelters we serve. Well, just this year, Aryana reached that very important milestone. Happy 16th Birthday, Aryana! For the past couple of months, Aryana has experienced the power of birthdays other than her own.

We regularly engage with our volunteers to see how they are doing, as well as how they are feeling about their experiences as magic makers for homeless children and families. Here are a few highlights from Aryana on the power of…

THE CELEBRATION EXPERIENCE

This past March after waiting a year and a half, I had the honor of helping with my first birthday parties in the shelters. The impact this experience has had on me is one that I will always remember. We were throwing four separate birthday parties and everyone was having a blast…and that’s what matters!

THE CHILDREN WHO TOUCH YOUR HEART

…she asked me to sit next to her, then she started feeding me goldfish, then she wanted me to hold her hand for a walk around the room with her. When it was time for cake she refused to eat her cake unless I ate it with her. And then…just like that, the party was over with and it was time for me and my new friend to part ways…She didn’t want me to leave and that’s when I started to cry…I had walked in with the mindset that I would help change children's lives, not even realizing that these kids would be about to change me, too.

THE MAGIC OF EXTRA-ORDINARY BIRTHDAYS

It's easy to say that this has been truly life changing for me, and I couldn’t be more blessed that I get to work with Extra-Ordinary Birthdays as my platform. I would like to thank EOB’s Founder Schinnell Leake for allowing me to work with this incredible organization. I’m excited for all the parties to come, along with the lives I might touch in the process, and the lives that will touch me as well.

Thank you, Aryana, for your time and dedication. We are very proud of you and glad to have you on our team!

Inspired by Aryana’s volunteer experience? If you would like to learn more about our organization, please explore our website at extraordinarybirthdays.org. And, as always…Believe in the Power of a Birthday!

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