When Tanvi Barman started joining her parents on their volunteer visits to homeless shelters at age seven, she realized something; the kids living in shelters never had birthday parties. At 14, she set out to change that with a project called No Birthday Left Behind. The non-profit’s site explains that their mission is “to provide every homeless shelter child an opportunity to celebrate their birthday in a special and memorable way!”. They do this by working with vendors that provide services like cake and face painting.
Now, at 17, Barman has been operating her nonprofit for three years and has hosted 45 birthday celebrations. Her nonprofit has established relationships with four shelters and aims to expand its outreach.
On her website, Barman explains that these parties are special to homeless kids because they provide a sense of stability and joy that might be lacking in their lives. Barman writes: “Lack of special birthday celebrations for these underprivileged children leads to further homelessness and uncertainty for them as they are deprived of the normal upbringing every child deserves”.
For Barman, the parties are also a bonding experience. While she might not know the birthday child at first, she notes that often changes by the end of the party. She told CBS News, "Within an hour, they're holding my hands, they're tugging on my sleeve, and they really trust me".
If you are a Bay Area resident interested in getting involved, the nonprofit has plenty of opportunities. They are looking for volunteers, vendors, and shelters. You can find all the information here.
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash
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Sophie Hayssen is a blog and newsletter editor at BUST. Her work has appeared in Rookie, Teen Vogue, and Women's Media Center. She is a born-and-raised New Yorker who currently lives in Brooklyn. You can find more of her work here.