Who Are We? Launched in April 2022 by Benita Webber, Birthday Connections fills a void in Kansas City —the need for an organization focused on celebrating marginalized children’s birthdays. We’re a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit located right here in Kansas City, Missouri.
What‘s Our Mission?
Our mission is to empower marginalized families with resources and dignity to celebrate their children’s birthdays in a meaningful way.
What’s Our Vision?
We envision a community where all families are empowered to celebrate their children’s milestones with dignity and to foster a sense of self-worth.
What Inspired Us To Create Birthday Connections?
Benita’s own childhood experience played its part in inspiring the launch of Birthday Connections. Raised by a single mom and the youngest of five, most birthdays were not observed with the customary fanfare and gifts. Though there was lots of love, financial struggles limited resources.
In search of a volunteer opportunity in 2020, and not finding one that felt inspirational at the time, she began to research how marginalized children in Kansas City celebrate their birthdays.
Finding a void, Benita began conceptualizing an idea for a nonprofit by building a team of friends with a passion for kids celebrating their birthdays. Their brainstorming sessions coalesced into Birthday Connections.
What Makes Us Unique?
We’re the only non-profit organization in Kansas City with a mission for children to be celebrated on their birthdays. Though there are other birthday celebration nonprofits in the US, we are the only birthday nonprofit that empowers families with the agency to choose for themselves what they want to give to their children on their birthdays, including the gifts and the type and flavor of their sweet treat. Families have control over how and when to celebrate.
The Birthday Market is an online shopping platform on our website that was inspired when Rose Brooks Center shared a story with Benita that touched her heart. One of the moms had broken down in tears when she was given the opportunity to choose her children’s holiday gifts from a collection of donated items rather than having the gifts selected FOR her. The mom said that until that moment, she’d never, ever, had the opportunity to choose gifts for her children; they had always just been handed to her.
Her story set Benita on a mission to develop a process for families to choose for themselves their children’s birthday gifts and to provide sweet treats for their celebration. Birthday Connections then partnered with Rose Brooks Center for a six-month pilot program.
How Do Families Sign Up?
Birthday Connections collaborates with local Social Services agencies to identify families that need our resources. The agencies liaise between us and the families allowing us to remain 100% in the background. This process is a cornerstone of our program that protects the privacy and dignity of the families as well as lessens the stigma of receiving yet another handout.
Why Is It Important to Celebrate Children’s Birthdays?
Hard to imagine but this may be the first time for some, if not many, of the kids to receive birthday gifts or have a birthday celebration. And as poverty often goes, we find some parents who did not have their birthdays celebrated as they grew up.
It’s crucial for marginalized children to mark milestones. Doing so gives them the opportunity to understand their personal development, increase their self-worth, and hopefully give them a sense of hope as they grow. That’s why celebrating birthdays is important, especially for families and kids whose lives are often challenging and chaotic.
Birthdays are the time for families to show their children that they are special and have a place in their family. In addition to creating and promoting a sense of self-worth, as well as providing time to feel recognized, special, and part of the community, birthdays teach children how to celebrate others. And when children are given the chance to be celebrated in a way that feels normal, it may inspire them to celebrate others as well.
What are the benefits for families?
In addition to giving parents and caregivers financial support to celebrate their children’s birthdays, Birthday Connections provides emotional support for the family. By eliminating the stress of how to provide cakes and gifts, we help ease the family’s stress and potential feelings of inadequacy. Now when it’s time to celebrate their children’s birthdays, they have one less thing to worry about and we hope children’s birthday celebrations will provide an opportunity to strengthen family bonds and reinforce relationships.