The Birthday Squad of Buffalo was born when Julie Schmit (former Director of Communications at Camp Good Days & Special Times, who was home watching her 3 children grow), got a nudge in the form of an email from her friend Tricia Caruso in 2009. The note read: This sounds like you. DO IT!. It came with a link to Birthday Wishes, an organization run by women hosting birthday parties for hundreds of homeless children in the Boston area. Inspired by the joy they were bringing, in such a simple yet meaningful way, Julie met with two of these wonderful ladies, and returned to Buffalo ready to help. She and longtime friend Diane Kowalski, who has dedicated her life to helping children, decided to make a local homeless shelter their first stop. They got the go-ahead to start throwing birthday parties at Cornerstone Manor, the Women & Children's safe house associated with the Buffalo City Mission.
The parties at the shelter were held each month for the next 7 years, with all residents being invited to celebrate the children with birthdays that particular month. Hundreds of children and women have been delighted (and have also been appreciative and delightful) at the Birthday Squad parties.
Wanting to help as many children as possible, the Birthday Squad added a local Boys & Girls Club to the monthly party list in 2013. These parties were phenomenal and attended by 60 members each month until January of 2017, when we moved to a different Boys & Girls Club to help a new group of children (with 150 members). We happily celebrated everyone's birthdays there and in January of 2018, we moved to yet a different Boys & Girls Club for the year; our plan is to switch it up on an annual basis, to help as many children as possible. In addition to our main monthly party, in 2017 we held several parties at the Vive La Casa shelter in Buffalo, which houses people who have fled war-torn lands, and we've also recently been delivering birthday party supplies for impoverished children who receive services from PATH Enrichment Center in Buffalo. Over the years, we have also delivered gifts and cupcakes to some homeless schoolchildren (when contacted by school administrators) and to famiies through local food pantries, and we are honored to be able to help.
From the very beginning, we have been super-blessed with fabulous volunteers of all ages who are dependable and enthusiastic and love to help others. Throwing parties and bringing balloons, decorations, food, entertainment and goodies is a relatively simple way to bring joy into lives. We always have gifts for the children who are celebrating their birthdays that month. And we hand out cupcakes, ice cream and goody bags to all of the children, and then we always provide entertainment. Over the years, the fun has included the likes of magicians, clowns, singers, face-painters, caricaturists, quiz show host, animal educators, drum circles, martial arts experts, carnival games, cookie decorating, pumpkin-painting, and many creative opportunities through arts and crafts. And we are proud to say that we also bring a lot of laughter and happiness!
Birthday Squad of Buffalo was officially granted tax-exempt status in December of 2010, allowing the organization to begin securing donations to help create joy for even more children in the Buffalo area.
The Birthday Squad is able to provide birthday celebrations to groups of impoverished/homeless children in the Buffalo area, and to homeless children in their schools, when notified by the child's teachers or guidance counselors. If you know of children whose birthdays might otherwise go unnoticed. or if you are interested in helping, please contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. A heartfelt thank you goes out to everybody who helps bring joy through our nonprofit, which is 100% volunteer-run.
May your birthdays always be happy! Julie Schmit
*We DO NOT publish photos of residents from the safe house on this site, or on any site. The only photos shown are of Birthday Squad Volunteers and children from other Birthday Squad venues.