The Party Project

What is the injustice we are solving?
The issue that I am addressing is the lack of means for low-income/homeless families to have the items needed to celebrate birthdays. SNAP (food stamps) does not cover most items needed for a birthday party and a family with limited income most likely feels other expenses such as electric bills, medication etc. are more important to spend on. I feel that every child’s birthday should be celebrated regardless of financial situation, and have therefore created the Party Project. The Party Project helps create birthday kits for low-income/homeless families to utilize for parties. These kits include all the items needed for a birthday party for 8-10 people, including decorations, cake, candles, birthday cards, and special treats. I have partnered with six local social service agencies in my area to help distribute the birthday kits to their clientele as needed.
Our Compassionate Solution
To solve this injustice of
Lack of resources for homeless and low-income youth to celebrate their birthdays.
we will address
The inequality of homeless and low-income families who are not able to utilize SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) to buy most items necessary to have a birthday party.
The Party Project will provide birthday kits with all the supplies necessary to host a birthday party for 8-10 people and will be available for distribution from the six agencies that I have partnered with.
Our Plan
Our Project Goals
The Party Project Goal is to provide birthday kits to homeless and low-income youth between the ages of 1-18 years of age in the Lane County area.
We will increase my / our compassion by...
Working with our partnering agencies, along with other community members such as Girl Scouts, church youth groups. We will host birthday kit supply collections and box building events to get more community members involved.
How will you show courage?
I will show courage by meeting with community representatives to address this need, and by making the public aware by making presentations within my community.
How will you collaborate with others?
I have partnered with six local community service agencies and will continue to work with them as well as Girl Scouts, church youth groups, school groups and other community organizations.
How will you know you are moving in the right direction?
I know that I am moving in the right direction as I have the support of my Girl Scout council as well as adult members of my community who have provided me with guidance.
Create a list of key steps you will take
I will continue to create birthday kits, each kit costs between $20-$25.00 to create.
I will continue to attract community support for the project and work towards developing it into a non-profit of its own.
The impact we've made
How many people were impacted by your project?
Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project
Currently we have distributed 148 birthday kits, we have an additional 80 kits ready to deliver, 60 of which have already been scheduled. I feel that more than 148 people have been impacted by the project because each birthday kit contains supplies for a party of 8-10 people, so if everyone who received a kit, had only 5 people at their party, then the Party Project had a direct impact on 740 people.
How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?
Yes I have involved others in carrying out and expanding the Party Project. Since completing my Girl Scout Gold Award, I have partnered with the youth group at First United Methodist Church in Eugene (FUMC) who are helping me to carryon the Party Project. They have actually contacted an additional social service agency in Eugene to try to provide birthday party kits to their youth clientele. Since FUMC joined me in the Party Project, they have held a box building night, helped me with my box building night and will be holding another box building this coming April.
Leah H.

January 04, 2018

Oh my goodness!!!! Thank you so much for the mini-grant!
I will definitely think about what you said on making others realize how important birthdays are, and how to best go about explaining that! I will also check back in with the agencies I am working with and see if they can help with measuring the impact.
RaulPF C.

January 05, 2018

We are excited to support your work and your journey as a peacemaker! Look forward to your updates as you implement your project!
Kelsey T.

January 04, 2018

Hi Leah! Congratulations -- we have approved your mini-grant application! We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get expert feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below.

This is a wonderful project! You've identified a need for low income families that people rarely notice or talk about and have come up with a concrete way to address it. You've done a fabulous job in particular of collaborating with others and demonstrating compassion through your project. I'm also curious to hear more about what you mentioned in the courage question about how you are meeting with community representatives and spreading awareness through your project. Through spreading awareness and advocacy like that, there is potential to address some of the root causes while also impacting individual families in need.

Areas to further strengthen your project:
I would encourage you to think a bit more about how to explain why birthday parties in particular are important for all families to be able to have, regardless of their income. I agree with you and I can tell you understand the importance of birthday parties, but how can you explain that to someone new to the idea or someone who thinks they aren't basic needs? What is it about birthday parties that is so valuable to a young person as they grow up? I also think there is more room to explore how you can know you are moving in the right direction -- what indicators of success can you think of, beyond support from your community? What can you do to find out how the birthday parties are impacting the families who receive the kits? How can you measure the impact on those kids?

Congrats again and thanks for being a peacemaker!
Leah H.

February 07, 2018

Hi Kelsey, I have thought about the questions that you asked me and I also shared them with staff at the social service agencies that the Party Project partnered with. This is sort of a compilation of our responses:

1-How you can know you are moving in the right direction -- what indicators of success can you think of, beyond support from your community?
-Receiving the kits reduces stress on families who are already struggling. They can focus on finding or keeping their housing. Being homeless or imminently homeless is also incredibly stressful for children. Being able to celebrate a birthday maintains a sense of normalcy that can help.
-Most people think of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse when they hear the words "domestic violence.” What many people do not realize is that abusers also can be economically abusive.
Economic abuse can be any of a number of things such as:
• Controlling the finances Not allowing one's partner to work
• Jeopardizing current employment through harassment
• Jeopardizing future employment by physically abusing a partner the night before an interview or refusing to provide transportation to the interview
• Taking a partner's money without her permission
• Forcing one partner to be the main financial provider
• Denying access to, or knowledge of, financial resources
• Sabotaging their partner’s credit by not making payments
• Destroying property that is in their partner’s name
Due to this financial impact on the survivor and their children, many of them do not have the ability to purchase supplies for birthdays.

2- What can you do to find out how the birthday parties are impacting the families who receive the kits?
-Caseworkers have had several families say how much the birthday kits have been such a wonderful gift and have helped them able to provide more for their children.
-The population that the Party Project is serving by providing the kits are not used to receiving something for free as strings are attached to everything in their world. Following up with measurable outcomes are difficult because of this. When I developed the Party Project, I wanted it to be a no-string attached program, it meant to reduce stress, not add to it.

3- How can you measure the impact on those kids?
-We all feel that its hard to give concrete measures, the case managers have stated that families are very appreciative of the kits and they continue to get requests for birthday boxes from clientele as word of the program spreads.
Kelsey T.

February 08, 2018

Hi Leah! Thanks for your very thoughtful consideration of my questions and response. I can tell you and you are really thinking this through and reflecting on your project and its impact! It is great that you are getting feedback from social service agencies about how the birthday kits are relieving stress on families. I definitely understand that you want to keep this "no strings attached" and that makes sense -- but it sounds like you are able to get information second hand through caseworkers, which is great -- sounds like you are developing some good strategies for tracking your impact. Keep up the great work and definitely reach out if there is something we can do to help.
Fish S.

December 31, 2017

Leah, this is amazing. Your work is so important and necessary -- and I imagine a lot of kids are helpful for your work to create experiences for them that most of us take for granted!

Do you have any photos or stories from recipients of your party packs? Do you distribute the packs, or do you help organize the parties, too?

This project is terrific -- what are your plans for growing or deepening it this spring? And how can we help?
Leah H.

December 31, 2017

Because of confidentiality restrictions, I cannot post photos of recipients of the boxes. I work with six local agencies here in my community, and they make requests to the Party Project as to the number of birthday kits that they are in need of, and we supply them with those kits.

I have been working with younger Girl Scouts to build boxes as well as a local church youth group who is helping me continue the project now that I have earned my Gold Award.

Ideally I would like to have the Party Project develop into a non-profit of its own, but I really have no idea how to go about that. Currently I am able to process grants and donations through my Girl Scout Council since my troop is still active, but the remaining girls in my troop only have 2 more years left before they also finish high school and age out.
Leah H.

February 07, 2018

I have posted some photos in my updates :)
RaulPF C.

December 28, 2017

Thanks for sharing more about your project, Leah! Most of our team are away this week but a member of the team will get back to you next week with more details on the next steps to receive your mini-grant! We are looking forward to supporting your project!
Leah H.

December 27, 2017

This is the link to my project's Facebook page:
Check it out and like it please!