Bringing hope, joy and a sense of self-worth to homeless children with the gift of a birthday party.

Meet our Volunteers

Every month we honor a volunteer or group of volunteers in our newsletter and on our website. Our volunteers make the birthday magic happen! Read their stories and get inspired.

Lyla Smith

December 2023


Lyla Smith, mentioned above in our Community Support and Recognition section, is a newer volunteer. She started volunteering for us two months ago and hit the ground running. In addition to her birthday party fundraiser, she has donated gifts for seven birthday children, juice for three parties, and party supplies for two parties. She was also a tremendous help at the gala. Here’s what Lyla had to say about why she chose to volunteer for Birthday Dreams:


“My new Farmers Insurance agent in Renton has Birthday Dreams featured on his website and it was there where I heard about Birthday Dreams and wanted to check it out for myself. I can’t imagine not celebrating a birthday, so providing a birthday party for a homeless child tugged at my heart. I took advantage of this opportunity and jumped in with both feet to become involved.


The extensive website offers many avenues for volunteering and there is something out on the site for everyone who has a desire to volunteer. I had a milestone birthday party and in lieu of gifts for myself, I asked my guests to bring toys for Birthday Dreams and they donated over 180 toys from my party. My goal is to have an annual event for a toy drive. In addition to the toy drive, I volunteered for the Gala of Dreams fundraising auction, and have donated gifts for the birthday parties.


I can’t say enough about the incredible staff and amazing volunteers that I’ve met in a short period of time that are associated with Birthday Dreams. This organization is a perfect fit for me.”


Again, a huge thank you to Lyla for her generous and caring support!



Carol Oshiro

November 2023


Carol Oshiro registered as a Birthday Dreams volunteer in September 2022 and signed up for her first gift donation the following month. Since then, she has donated over 50 items to our birthday children’s parties, including cupcakes/cakes for 29 children (some have been featured in past newsletters), complete sets of birthday gifts for 13 children, juice for six parties, and all the necessary party supplies for two parties. She has also donated monetarily to our Spring Fundraiser, Miles for Smiles, and to a friend's Facebook birthday fundraiser.


When asked about why she decided to start volunteering at Birthday Dreams she said:“?I retired from the Kent School District after 20 years. I’ve always believed in volunteering and after retiring I had to find a new way to do that. My son’s girlfriend, Jill Slabey, was baking cakes for Birthday Dreams so I looked them up. I knew that I could help in some way. I started by buying gifts for a child. Next, I baked cupcakes for a dinosaur party. Then I got the courage to try a cake. I hadn’t baked a cake since my three children were young. I always made sure that they had a special birthday. I saw how important it was to them, so this lets me help other children now. I now try to buy gifts for one child, and bake between two to four cakes, a month.” 


We are lucky to have Carol as a consistent volunteer every month. 



Jen Pack

October 2023


Over the past five years, Jen Pack has helped with the design for many of our events, including past galas, as well as this year's Gala. We are so grateful to have someone as talented as Jen volunteering her time, and with this year's Gala just over a week away, we felt it only fitting that we put her "in the spotlight." Below are a few words from Jen:


“I first learned about Birthday Dreams in November 2018 when I was looking for volunteer opportunities for my child’s Girl Scout troop. I saw on their website they needed Web Development help and volunteered my services. I am a freelance graphic designer and I have provided some website support, but mostly graphic design assistance for Birthday Dreams. My first project was a poster design for the 10th Anniversary Celebration and since then I’ve created invitations and other graphics for Miles for Smiles and the Gala of Dreams every year since I started volunteering, along with some other designs here and there as needed. I continue to volunteer for Birthday Dreams because I believe every child deserves to be celebrated.”



Cyndi Sheldon, Sue Woller, and Cindy Straub

September 2023


Cyndi is the current Mamma’s Hands House of Hope party coordinator. Cyndi, Sue, and Cindy have each volunteered at upwards of 50 parties, donated gifts for 42 children, and the "goodies" (juice, ice cream, and cakes) for 46 parties, which ranks them among our top 10 volunteers for each of those categories. Wow!


Cyndi said, “We've enjoyed every minute of the time. My friend Sue saw a story on the news about Birthday Dreams, what they did for kids, and that the facility was broken into. The robbers took all the laptops, electronics etc. It was heartbreaking to think they worked so hard to help kids then it was stolen. Sue thought this was a great opportunity for me to volunteer. Turns out she and our friend Cindy all signed up together. Mamma’s Hands is a small shelter, so the three of us can handle it. Sue makes amazing cakes; I make the treat bags and buy the gifts (we all put money in to purchase them), and Cindy handles the juice, ice cream, and any babies that come to the party she will cradle. The three of us go to dinner together before the party; a chance for us to catch up with each other. We have been touched by all the wonderful families we have met over the years; many have tough situations but so much inner strength. The time has gone so fast. It is hard to believe we started in 2016. It is such an amazing feeling to be able to share our time and talents to impact these kids’ lives. If you are thinking about volunteering to help at one of the sites, do it, you will never regret it.


We are so glad to finally recognize these amazing women in this long-overdue Volunteer Spotlight. Thank you, ladies, for all your support!



Sandy Newbury

August 2023

Sandy Newbury attended a volunteer orientation in November 2022 and started volunteering for us right away. She has baked seven cakes and in addition to other donations, gave one lucky child every gift on their list. She comes in almost every week to volunteer her time wherever she is most needed.


We asked Sandy how she learned about Birthday Dreams and what she enjoys about volunteering. She replied, “My husband passed in November of 2021 and after the difficulties of moving forward with my life and the loneliness that followed, I saw a segment done by Chris Cashman on Channel 5 about Birthday Dreams and the amazing miracles created for children in homelessness shelters, on their special day. I was moved and believed that this was what I needed and should do, to fill the empty space in my heart! I applied and attended the orientation meeting, and I was hooked.


I love the people I work with and the happy spirit that encircles the room, as we wrap gifts and dream about what these children will be thinking when they unwrap their gifts! I've baked quite a few cakes too and even delivered one of them to a homeless shelter! I've found beautiful bows at the dollar store and continue to purchase them for the children! They make the present so fancy looking, and my sore hands love not curling ribbon, so a big win-win for all of us! I volunteer on Fridays for three hours and try to bake a cake a month...it gives me such joy! I've recruited one friend and hope that others out there will hear the call that I did and come join our amazing group of volunteers! It's exactly what this world needs now!”


Thank you, Sandy! You are truly an inspiration.



Daniel Brewis

July 2023

Daniel Brewis started volunteering for Birthday Dreams in February 2023 and has delivered for us every month since then, including seven times in April and thirteen in May. He has stepped up for us multiple times whenever we needed help, whether picking up a large donation or making deliveries at the last-minute, including a couple of large onsite parties. He has ever already signed up to deliver another large onsite party next month.


Here’s what he had to say about why he decided to volunteer for us and why he continues to do so… “Thank you! That's an honor to be considered. I am a retired builder. I have six grandkids that I spoil the heck out of. One of my daughters told me about Birthday Dreams and I checked it out. After making the first few deliveries it became clear that there are countless kids out there pretty much invisible to the public. They need love and respect like everyone else. I am more than happy to help deliver to these kids.”



Hayley Robison

June 2023

Hayley Robison
 began volunteering at Birthday Dreams a little over a year ago, after learning about our organization from a service activity at her church. At the time, she had a part-time job, and was looking for things of value to fill her free time. She said, “The mission of Birthday Dreams was a perfect fit. It gives me an opportunity to do things I like in a way that is helping others. I enjoy my Wednesday afternoons in the office wrapping gifts, curling ribbon, cutting out gift tags, and doing anything needed to help things run smoothly. I am glad I have the opportunity to help out.” 



Sonny Meadows

May 2023

Sonny Meadows has been volunteering for Birthday Dreams since early November 2022. She was frantically trying to get rid of her Halloween candy and her daughter-in-law told her to donate to “Birthday Wishes” in Renton. She tried searching online for us with no success, but was informed it’s “Birthday Dreams” by the Renton Chamber of Commerce and was given our contact information.

Sonny said, “I arrived at the correct address, introduced myself, donated the candy and asked if they had any volunteer opportunities…and they asked if I liked to wrap gifts, and I found my calling!” 

Sonny is retired and was looking to donate her time. She said, “I volunteer once a week and I really enjoy what I do.?I wrap birthday gifts, decorate birthday hats, create ribbons, and any other birthday activities to help support the many birthdays that are provided for homeless children."

Sonny has four grandchildren and says that next to Christmas, their birthdays are a special occasion. She explained, “I understand the excitement and pure happiness that a birthday can bring to a child. I believe these are precious memories that last a lifetime. This is why I like the mission of Birthday Dreams and what keeps me coming back each week.” 

Also a Birthday Dreams evangelist, Sonny went on to say, 
“The staff is incredible. Everyone is friendly, personable, and welcoming. If you have extra time to give, come join us!” 



Karen Criddle

April 2023

Karen Criddle learned to decorate cakes as a kid. Her mom made all of her and her sibling's birthday cakes and wedding cakes, as well as cakes for friends and family. Over the years Karen too made cakes for friends and family.

In 2021, one of Karen's co-workers learned about Birthday Dreams and told Karen it would be the perfect opportunity for Karen to put her cake baking skills to work for a cause. Karen said, 
“She was right! I really enjoy the creative aspect of making the cakes and thinking what the child receiving it would like, how to make their day special. Volunteering for Birthday Dreams works great for my schedule, which is somewhat unpredictable/irregular, because I can take a look at the cakes needed for the next week or two and see if I’m going to be in town and pick a birthday that fits.” 

Karen went on to explain how the tools for decorating now are amazing and how Pinterest and other social media platforms provide an endless supply of ideas. Needless to say, her cakes, like the one pictured here, are AMAZING!

Karen recently signed up to bake cupcakes for an onsite party for 60 people. When the shelter raised their numbers to 100 and she was asked to make the additional 40 cupcakes, she responded, “I’ll recruit a friend- can do!” Karen has baked cakes or cupcakes for us every month since starting in December 2021; she once baked eight cakes in a single month. A huge thank you to Karen for the many treats she's made for our birthday kids.



Elizabeth Blake

March 2023

Elizabeth Blake has always enjoyed baking, so when she saw an ad for Birthday Dreams, it seemed like a perfect way to put her love of baking to work for the good of her community. She started volunteering for Birthday Dreams in January 2019, buying juice, gifts, and party supplies, and of course baking a cake from from time-to-time. She said, “Every child should have a birthday party to celebrate their special day and Birthday Dreams is such a great organization for doing just that.” 

Elizabeth retired from her 20-year career as a paralegal when the pandemic hit. By July 2021 Elizabeth was one of our most active bakers, baking at least three cakes per month. In her busiest month, Elizabeth baked 15 cakes! In 2022 alone, Elizabeth made cakes/cupcakes for 112 birthday children! WOW!

Needless to say, we at Birthday Dreams think Elizabeth is pretty amazing!

Elizabeth also donates her time to the Regional Animal Services of King County, where she has fostered and cared for ill and injured rescued animals since 2010. Between her work there and with Birthday Dreams she is straying very busy in her retirement years.



Cherie Katana

February 2023

After working in the schools for 35 years as a special education teacher and then a speech/language pathologist, Cherie Katana retired in 2016. She was looking for a volunteer activity that would help others, but also be fun. Cheri said, “When I came across Birthday Dreams, I knew right away that baking cakes for children was for me. Helping kids, being creative and baking; All fun in my book. Every time I sign up to make a cake, I get excited about planning it and making it. I am often online looking for new techniques and theme ideas to try out. I often plan out cakes while swimming laps at the YMCA, which helps the time go by quicker. I also deliver the cakes and love it when I get to meet the Birthday boy or Girl.” 

Cherie’s other volunteer activities include helping at the Salvation Army Food Bank and Northwest Association for Blind Athletes. Besides baking, she enjoys swimming, biking, walking her dog Gemma and working in her yard.



Jill Slabey

January 2023

Jill Slabey has been volunteering with Birthday Dreams since May 2022. She had recently started baking and wanted to find an outlet for her new-found cake-baking hobby. A Google search led her to Birthday Dreams; she immediately signed up to donate her first cake (Lego-themed). Of the 20 cakes she has baked to date, she says her llama cake was a favorite.

Jill says she felt drawn to the mission of Birthday Dreams because she had parents who always made a big deal out of birthdays and wanted to play a small role in providing that for other children.

Now a Birthday Dreams advocate, Jill recruited her boyfriend's mom, Carol Oshiro, to volunteer with Birthday Dreams. Carol has baked cakes, donated gifts, and even sponsored an entire party in honor of Jill's birthday this past month. Jill says she and Carol love talking about the cakes they are baking and sharing tips/techniques with each other.

Jill has also organized two volunteer opportunities with her team from Amazon, where the team spent six hours wrapping gifts and crafting candles for 'pin the candle on the cake' game. She already has a third volunteer activity on the calendar and has signed up to bake two cakes in January. Thank you, Jill. You truly deserve to be celebrated for all you do!



Mark Blauman

December 2022

Mark Blauman, a local Renton businessman and community member has been volunteering with Birthday Dreams since 2018. He had been working in the area organizing local silent auctions to benefit charities when he came to learn about Birthday Dreams. After going through some of his own experiences as a child, he felt especially drawn to the mission of Birthday Dreams. He has said that “service to others is like therapy to me.”

In 2021, Mark joined the Birthday Dreams Gala of Dreams procurement committee, leveraging his personal and professional contacts resulting in thousands of dollars of donated items. In 2022, Mark led the procurement committee resulting in a record-breaking fundraising effort for Birthday Dreams.
 
Mark’s service to Birthday Dreams doesn’t end with the gala. He continues to put Birthday Dreams front and center. Through his business relationships as an insurance agent with Farmers Insurance, Mark teamed up with the 10X Real Estate Group to support their recent casino night and toy drive where Birthday Dreams was a beneficiary of the evening.  



Terah Rios

November 2022

Terah Rios first learned of 'Birthday Dreams' in a recent Instagram post by Brooke Fox (Brooke & Jeffrey in the Morning). Curious about the organization, Terah visited the Birthday Dreams website. Terah said, "I am a big 'birthday person' and I always have been. Growing up, we did not have a lot of money, but my mom always made sure we had a fun birthday with lots of sweet treats, prizes and games. I joke that it runs in the family. Amongst my friends, I'm known as the 'crafty one' or 'party planner' of the group...my partner Jeremy Grubaugh and I immediately thought this opportunity was made for me." And actually, it turns out the opportunity was for both of them.

In October, Terah and Jeremy jumped right in and have been assembling birthday supplies to align with specific themes. They have also been spreading the word about Birthday Dreams amongst friends and co-workers. Terah said, "I have posted a few times to Facebook and Instagram - hoping that some of my other friends will jump in and send a gift through your wish list, or sign up to volunteer, etc. Jeremy works for Microsoft, so we actually made a video of us creating a 'galaxy' party a week or so ago, trying to encourage others to give. And honestly just letting everyone know about your charity." Terah commented that her favorite thing about this opportunity is knowing that she is making kids smile and truly feel like it's their day. Thank you, Terah and Jeremy, for all you do and for spreading the word about our cause.



New Horizon School / Christina Schaefer-Harbison

August 2022

The New Horizon School is a school in Renton tailored to students with learning disabilities. 
Christina Schaefer-Harbison is a teacher at New Horizon who teaches a class called "Transitions" which caters to students ages 18-21 and focuses on independent living skills as well as vocational skills.

Christina's class started volunteering with Birthday Dreams in Sept of 2021 and would come in weekly to volunteer while also allowing her students to gain work experience and life skills such as completing tasks on time and delivering on commitments. The students completed office tasks, wrapping gifts and also participated in the annual inventory process. Christina is looking forward to partnering with Birthday Dreams again in the fall.



Sarah Askander

July 2022

In 2019, Sarah Askander, who lives in Renton and works at The Boeing Company, was googling places nearby where she could volunteer. Birthday Dreams was one of the top results. After reading our website, Sarah said she “fell in love” with the vision and mission of our organization. Shortly thereafter, she began making Birthday Dreams deliveries. Sarah said, “I love dropping off birthday presents and cakes to the receiving children and their families. Everyone is always so happy and excited to see me come to the door…you can tell they feel so special and it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of...” Sarah comes from a large family that immigrated here from Egypt in 1969. She said that her family has always celebrated and made birthdays special for all the kids growing up – and it “touches her heart delivering birthdays to kids and families and seeing the excitement and joy that it brings to them.” Sarah also said that volunteering “really touches and fulfills something in [her] life, too.”

In addition to Birthday Dreams, Sarah loves walks at the beach and park, working out at Orangetheory, going to church, and spending time with my family, especially her nieces and nephews. Thank you, Sarah for being an amazing part of our volunteer community.



Ashley Dearth

June 2022

Ashley Dearth began volunteering with Birthday Dreams in September 2021. She had been looking for a way to give back and found Birthday Dreams online. She and her husband loved celebrating her nieces and nephews birthdays but as they have grown older she’s wanted to continue to share that with other children. Since September Ashley has completed a number of projects for Birthday Dreams. She’s made party hats, donated toys and has made a number of cupcakes.  She really enjoys making cakes for the different themes and especially enjoys the Disney themed cakes. Thank you so much Ashley for all you have done to support Birthday Dreams.




Sally Eastey

May 2022

Sally Eastey started her volunteer journey with Birthday Dreams six years ago. She remembered how much she loved birthdays as a child and thought the mission of Birthday Dreams was a special one. Sally started as a present wrapper, which she really enjoyed, but as her work schedule changed, she shifted from volunteering to donating. Over the last two years, Sally has donated amazing baskets to our Annual Gala (16 baskets just last year!), and she's already begun planning for this year's gala! Not surprisingly one of her favorite themes is "kids." Sally commented that she also fondly recalls assembling a Parisian-themed basket. That said, every basket is creates and donates is WONDERFUL. Thank you, Sally, for all you do for Birthday Dreams!




Cat Stabio

April 2022

Cat Stabio began volunteering with Birthday Dreams in May of 2020, having learned about our organization through a friend. At that time, the pandemic had just hit. A lot was changing in our community, and around the world. What hadn't changed was our need for volunteers. Cat was looking for ways that she and her children (ages 6 and 8) could make a difference in the community, she soon discovered that Birthday Dreams was a perfect fit. Cat began picking up party hats and goody bags from our office, which she and her family assembled, decorated and returned to the office. Cat commented how she really appreciated the opportunity to do this with her entire family; how it helped to teach her children the importance of giving back. Here at Birthday Dreams, we LOVE seeing kids helping kids and are so thankful for the support of parents like Cat who make that possible. Cat, we appreciate YOU!

In addition to involving her family, Cat recently hosted a Birthday Dreams volunteer event as part of her church's monthly women's group service project (photo above). Perhaps one of the most exciting things that came out of the event was that six women have since signed up to volunteer; one woman has already baked a rainbow cake for a 5-year old's party. Thank you, Cat for being such an important volunteer and a great ambassador of Birthday Dreams!




Brenna Vukovich and Susan Nordyke-Smith

March 2022

Brenna's mother always made birthdays very special. In raising her own children (who are now grown), Brenna followed in her mother's footsteps. So she was excited to find Birthday Dreams online - excited about the thought of being able to make birthdays special for other children, and about the opportunity to do so with mother, Susan. Although limited by Alzheimer's, Susan loves to shop! So Brenna sponsored an entire party, and over the course of several weeks, she and her mother made shopping trips to purchase gifts. Then, Susan and Brenna spent time together baking a cake and wrapping the gifts. The experience was extra-special as the party was for a child at a shelter for the deaf. You see, Susan’s sister lost her hearing at the age of 3, which made Brenna feel a special connection to the experience. We are so thankful for this mother-daughter duo, who are looking forward to volunteering again, for sharing their birthday joy with a child in need.



Gregory and Abel

February 2022

Gregory (pictured) and Abel volunteer as part of a Birthday Dreams partnership with Northwest Center. Northwest Center is an organization that has been in our community for the last 50 years and focuses on assisting those with developmental disabilities gain valuable skills. 

Gregory started volunteering with Birthday Dreams in July 2021 with his Northwest Center partner Abel. They come to Birthday Dreams every Tuesday and volunteer. 

Abel noted that Birthday Dreams provides a really supportive atmosphere where Gregory can be given a task or project and then is allowed to determine the best way to go about accomplishing it and develop his own system. Abel highlighted that Birthday Dreams understands that everyone has different abilities and is a very supportive environment. Gregory’s favorite volunteer activity is counting candy for goody bags. 

Thanks to both Gregory and Abel for all you do for Birthday Dreams!



Ivanna Morales

January 2022

College freshman Ivanna Morales found Birthday Dreams through her mom when she was in 9th grade. She quickly realized volunteering with Birthday Dreams allowed her to pair her love of baking with her passion for volunteerism. Ivanna shared that she understands the importance of being celebrated; birthdays were an important celebration in her family and allowed her to always feel valued. Ivanna, who has consistently baked 5 - 8 cakes per year for Birthday Dreams, vividly remembers the first cake she baked for us. It was a unicorn themed cake for a little girl named Abby. She commented that she still carries the joy and memory of that first cake knowing that it made a child happy. Thank you've Ivanna for all you have done and continue to do for Birthday Dreams!




Jim Waugh

November 2021

Last month, one of our very dedicated volunteers, Jim Waugh, celebrated a huge milestone with Birthday Dreams. Jim delivered his 1000th birthday. We were honored to recognize Jim at our recent Gala of Dreams. Jim found Birthday Dreams 3 years ago when he was searching online for volunteer opportunities to pursue in his retirement. During his 45 years in the banking industry, Jim did a lot of volunteer work and knew it was something he wanted to continue. He attended a volunteer orientation and never looked back. Jim commented that Birthday Dreams provides a great opportunity for him to serve his community and the flexibility to volunteer as he is able. Jim currently delivers parties 4-5 times a week! He said that he loves getting to see the children when he delivers a party; that their excitement really touches his heart.




Pam Brumlow

October 2021

Pam Brumlow started volunteering with Birthday Dreams about 7 years ago. Pam was going through a sad time and found herself wanting to shift her focus to doing good for others. Pam has been instrumental in the Birthday Dreams Gala each year. She shares her creative talents and can be found putting elaborate gift baskets together for the silent auction or putting her creativity into the Gala décor. Pam has also spent time delivering birthdays to children over the past 7 years. These have been some of the most rewarding experiences that she has had with Birthday Dreams. She says her favorite moments with Birthday Dreams are seeing a child’s eyes light up when their birthday is delivered. Thank you, Pam, for all you have done for Birthday Dreams!




Jude and Shera Isakson

September 2021

Shera Isakson and her 10 year old son, Jude, have been volunteering with Birthday Dreams since January 2020. When Jude was very young, Shera saw Birthday Dreams represented at Renton River Days. She promised herself that when Jude was at an age where he could volunteer and learn the blessing of serving others, she would look up Birthday Dreams. Birthday Dreams is a good fit for Shera and Jude because the mission really resonates with them. Jude and Shera come in every week to wrap gifts. They do a beautiful job. We have come to rely on them! Shera loves the mission of helping children and thought it would be a relatable mission for Jude. Jude loves his birthday and really likes being able to be a part of making birthday dreams come true for others.




Alison MacLellan

August 2021

Alison MacLellan began volunteering at Birthday Dreams back in 2014, donating many cakes. As life became busier for her family, Alison took a break from volunteering until 2020 when Covid hit and she found herself wanting to share her love of baking with folks outside of her immediate household. Alison is especially supportive of the cake needs for children with food allergies. Having a child with a nut allergy herself, Alison knows all the baking tricks to produce beautiful and tasty cakes to accommodate for various food allergies.

When Alison first began volunteering, she wanted to involve her children to help them see that not everyone's experience is the same. together they would select a Birthday Dreams party and buy all the supplies for it while they were out shopping for her own children's birthday party supplies.

Alison has baked many fun and creative cakes, including a number of "Frozen" themed cakes, as well as a "Baby Shark" cake. She really pays attention to the child's favorite colors and party theme to deliver a special cake. She has a very admirable goal of donating a cake a week in 2021 and has baked 31 cakes so far this year! Thank you, Alison, for all you do to support Birthday Dreams!



Clayton Pantano

July 2021

We are excited to have Clayton Pantano, owner of Entrust Marketing, join our volunteer Marketing Team to help us continue to build and grow our social strategy! We couldn't be more thankful for the experience and knowledge he brings with him! Thank you, Clayton, for jumping right in, sharing our mission with your circle and helping us continue to celebrate kids in the Puget Sound!




Denise Mackey

May 2021

Four years ago, Denise Mackey was seeking a volunteer position that she could do while caring for her then infant daughter. Denise said, "I found a Birthday Dreams ad for volunteers in the paper and it wasn't long before I was baking cakes and starting my relationship with the organization." In addition to baking cakes and purchasing gifts for parties, after a couple of years Denise took on another role. She explained, "Over the last 1.5 years, I've been putting pen to paper and writing thank you notes to all of the wonderful donors and volunteers." Birthday Dreams is committed to expressing gratitude to those who support our organization and are so grateful for Denise for helping to make that possible.

Denise, whose schedule has gotten increasing busier, will soon return to primarily being a volunteer baker. Denise says, "I love knowing that my cakes will continue to bring so much joy to kids around the area." We are very thankful for Denise's contribution of the years, and so grateful that she will continue to remain involved with Birthday Dreams.




Ally Butler

March 2021

Birthday Dreams is thankful for awesome volunteers like Ally Butler. Not only does Ally bake amazing cakes for Birthday Dreams, her Instagram @pennyandbaker posts help to spread the word about our mission.

Ally said, "Every year, even before I started my business 'penny&baker,' I looked for ways to give back to my community... I found Birthday Dreams on Instagram, before doing research online, and thought it was an amazing way to give back. Who knew you could bake cakes for a child's birthday! It was a no-brainer for me because as a chef/baker, it's what I love to do. I usually only do my acts of kindness a few times a year, but this made me want to do it every month of 2021. Especially with everything the world has been going through since 2020, I thought it would be a great way to give back to the kids of my local community. I like knowing that the things I bake are making someone's birthday special. Creating these cakes <Sesame Street and All Over Rainbow cakes pictured> for the past couple months has put me out of my comfort zone... not only am I making a child smile with the cakes I create, it's pushing my creativity.



Kathryn Stone

February 2021

We are so thankful for all of our volunteers, especially those who have been so supportive during this pandemic. This month, we are pleased to highlight a very special volunteer:
Kathryn Stone. Kathryn is no stranger to volunteering. She has been a YMCA volunteer for many years, but has been without work since Covid hit. She learned of Birthday Dreams through her sister and was excited to be able to once again "give back." In December and January, Kathryn packaged and delivered over 300 goodie bags. Kathryn hopes to continue to work with her sister to deliver goodie bags throughout 2021.



The Mattauchs

December 2020

Birthday Dreams would like to recognize Sheryl and Barry Mattauch. This amazing couple are definitely all-stars! Sheryl bakes cakes for us, Barry separated most, if not all, of the Halloween candy that was donated by Ridwell and is applying his engineering skills to troubleshooting some faulty electronics that were donated earlier this year. Sheryl and Barry are also helping bolster our volunteer army by getting their grandchildren involved in helping out.

Sheryl and Barry, Birthday Dreams appreciates you!



Sheryl Mattausch

May 2020

Sheryl Mattausch started supporting Birthday Dreams by baking cakes for parties, but has since evangelized our cause, encouraging her husband, grandchildren and other family members to get involved. From sorting a truckload of Halloween candy, to delivering parties to donating gift cards, Sheryl has stepped in, stepped up and rallied the troops to bring "joy, hope and dignity to homeless children with the gift of a birthday party."



Leah Battin

November 2019

"Birthday Dreams provides a great opportunity to give back to the community that isn't quite like any others. Birthday parties are super important to children, and I get to help make them happen. There are staff in place here whose hard work and dedication to helping children make it hard not to be inspired. I help out and at the same time set an example for my son, which is a gift!"

Thank you, Leah Battin! You are a gift to Birthday Dreams and our community.



Alejandra (Ale')

October 2019

Alejandra (Ale’) has been a Birthday Dreams volunteer for the past 13+ months. Ale' loves being a part of Birthday Dreams. She is always happy to interact with the staff and other volunteers. The bright colors of the wrapping paper, and wide variety of toys that she works with bring as much delight to Ale' as they do the kids who receive the gifts. Dad, Steve, says he enjoys seeing ale' get involved; volunteering makes her happy, and "when she's happy, the family is happy."

Our thanks to Ale’ for being an extra special Birthday Dreams volunteer.



Johnston Family

We have so many amazing volunteers. What's even more amazing is that we have families who volunteer together. Birthday Dreams is one of those charities that have volunteer opportunities for all ages. Parents and children can volunteer together. We are grateful for our volunteering families.   

One of these amazing family of volunteers is the Johnston Family: Ken, Karen and high school students David and Grace.

From Karen: Birthday Dreams provides perfect opportunities for me to get my family involved in giving back.  My husband and I have supported Birthday Dreams for years - mainly by attending and donating through their annual gala.  Recently we've been encouraged to take a more hands on approach, so we’ve been involved in community outreach - evangelize for Birthday Dreams, spread the mission, encourage others to get involved.  I decided that getting involved needed to include my high school kids.  Together we’ve teamed up for the Birthday Dreams 10th Birthday Party, worked the booth at Renton River Days and helped host a "goody bag/party hat" party at Microsoft.  It has been great to be able to include my entire family in support of Birthday Dreams.

A few words from Ken: They say life can be hard, life can be challenging, and life is always complicated but Birthday Dreams is simple, at least to me, and it is that very simple and clear idea that drew me to this wonderful and amazing charity.  For the children in our area, just down the street and around the corner, who are struggling through displacement, a lack of a home and the steady presence of a parent, we will honor them on their day.  Yup, it's a simple idea.  Let's throw a birthday party for children in shelters, foster care group homes, or homeless so that on that day that is supposed to be their day, the day that recognizes they turned another year older, that they are part of this world and growing up and through it, they are recognized.  Every event I do that they ask me to say why I volunteer, this thought comes to me, it is a real thought, a simple thought, and one that presses hard upon my heart but in a good way.  Volunteering is easy.  Giving time, giving money, and giving support are easy. Knowing that you have touched a young life and brought back to them a moment of dream, of recognition, of potential and opportunity is a blessing.  I think I volunteer with Birthday Dreams because their cause, our cause, crushes my heart and fills it back at the same time.  Thank you, Birthday Dreams,for your simple, true, honest vision.

Thank you to the Johnston family for your support and choosing to donate your time to Birthday Dreams. 




Jim and Carol Waugh

Jim Waugh started volunteering at Birthday Dreams in January 2019 and in the seven months since he has made over 125 deliveries. To boot, while he is out delivering birthdays-in-a-box, his wife Carol spends time in the office wrapping gifts.

Jim's enthusiasm and commitment is greatly appreciated by Birthday Dreams staff and party recipients alike. Thank you Jim and Carol.



Liz Mitchell

December 2018

Liz Mitchell
shares her card making skills, leading volunteer groups in making beautifully custom-crafted birthday cards for Birthday Dreams recipients. In October alone, Liz hosted seven Microsoft Micro-Give card making events where 150 Microsoft employees donated their "lunch hour" to make 298 cards. To boot, Microsoft will make a cash donation to match the volunteer hours. Liz said, "I’ve been a Stampin’ Up! Demonstrator for six years and absolutely love it. It allows me to spend time with my girls creating fun cards and gifts for their friends and classmates. I also enjoy time with my grownup friends gathering together to connect, catch up and craft. Now, thanks to Birthday Dreams, I get to share my love of card-making with new friends, with the end goal of bringing a smile to a child’s face – it really doesn’t get much better than this!" Liz, who had been on hiatus from card-making tofocus on her family, says, "Volunteering this past month for Birthday Dreams has reignited my spark and reminded me of how good it feels to connect with people and share what I love."





Darcy

August 2018 


Darcy started volunteering for Birthday Dreams in January of this year. She was fortunate enough to take an early retirement from Boeing and after 31 years of the corporate world wanted to be involved in something where she felt like she could make a difference. Darcy wanted to give back to the community and helping kids has always been something that meant a lot to her. Being able to put a smile on a child’s face and some joy in their hearts is rewarding. At Birthday Dreams, Darcy started with Birthday-in-a-Box deliveries. Just recently she took on some additional activities such as coordinating goody bag parties with the community, participating in committees and fundraising events, and has even been to Costco, Microsoft and Camp Kindness Counts helping them give back. 


Darcy’s favorite moment with Birthday Dreams so far was when she delivered a birthday box to a 3-year-old who was home with her mom at the time.  As Darcy was leaving the apartment the girl came running out to stop her, gave Darcy a big hug and thanked her for bringing her birthday to her!  Darcy was so touched by this moment that she had to quickly return to her car before the tears started flowing. As a child, Darcy’s mom always made her birthdays very special.  All of the kids in the neighborhood were invited over, she baked our cakes and they played games.  She can't imagine not being celebrated on her birthday as a kid, which is what makes Birthday Dreams such a meaningful organization to her.  









Geri Buchman

June 2017

Our volunteer highlight this month is Geri Buchman. Geri not only donates a great amount of time to handwriting our Thank You Cards, but she also generously donates the stamps for the cards as well. Her handwriting is so perfect, it's hard to tell her writing from printed material!

"When I started volunteering in February of 2012, Birthday Dreams was three years old. Since then, the organization has had tremendous growth in parties and donors." - Geri Buchman 

From June 2014 until the end of that year, she wrote and sent 351 cards, 2015 was 562 cards and 2016 was 498 cards, and year to date she's written 136 and still has 125 to go!

WOW! Geri, we are so grateful for all your do for us here at Birthday Dreams! Thank you for your continued support. You are a gift to us!  



Sarah

Q:When did you start volunteering for BirthdayDreams?
A: In November 2016, I made my first donations and then began volunteering inthe office.

 

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with BirthdayDreams?
A: I have been involved with Operation Christmas Child for the last severalyears, assembling gift donations for children in war-torn, poverty-strickenareas of the world. I was on the lookout for a program through which I coulduse similar skills and resources, but on a local level and all throughout theyear. I saw Birthday Dreams' website and was immediately moved to seek themout!

 

Q: How do you volunteer for Birthday Dreams?(Make cakes, deliver, on-site parties, etc.)
A: I volunteer in the office and am acting as project manager for theupcoming Kids Ninja Warrior Challenge event.

 

Q: What has helped you want to volunteer more?
A: When the BD staff and volunteers talk about preparing for a party, I hearthem discuss, plan and execute each detail with as much love and attention asif they are planning a party for their own child. This makes me want to makethe most of each small opportunity to create a moment of joy for another child(particularly one in the midst of struggles).

 

Q: What is one of your favorite birthday memories as a child? 
A: My favorite birthday memory was of a surprise party my family threw for meon my 8th birthday.  My dad was responsible for making up an excuse to getme to my room where a small group of friends was hiding.  He said"Can you go check your room? Um...I think I left my wallet on your...um,dresser".  When I opened the door, they all shouted"Surprise!  Happy Birthday!!".  I said "Wow,thanks!  Oh, and by the way, did anyone see my Dad's wallet in here?"My sister had to explain that the wallet was just a diversion to get me to comeupstairs. I was always the gullible one in the family!




Mae

Q: When did you start volunteering for Birthday Dreams?
A:
About 3 years ago

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with Birthday Dreams?
A:
I absolutely love the mission of Birthday Dreams. It's wonderful to bring joy to a child and their family.

Q: What was the reason you started to volunteer?

A: When I retired I began looking for the right volunteer opportunity that fit into my world.  I feel blessed and wanted to give back to the community in some way.  However, being retired, my husband and I want to do some traveling, so I need to have flexibility.  I go to the calendar when I'm in town and able, and just plug in what days work for me.  I had tried volunteering for a few places prior to BD, but they just weren't a good fit.  I hope to continue for quite some time.  Until they pull my keys!


Q: How do you volunteer for Birthday Dreams? (Make cakes, deliver, on-site parties, etc.)

A: I deliver the birthday in a box which is the perfect fit for me.


Q: What is your favorite part of volunteering?

A: I love the feedback from whoever is a home to accept the party box.  They are always so appreciative.  I always get thanked more than once.  I sort of get all the credit and all I do is drive around!  But I realize that's a key component.


Q: What has helped you want to volunteer more?

A: The positive feedback and knowing that I'm bringing joy to a child and the parents.  "Making a memory" is what I call it.


Q: Share one of your favorite experiences with Birthday Dreams.

A:  Well, it's not my favorite, but it comes to mind.  The time I had a beautiful cake in the back of my car, and the cake slid forward and dropped onto the floor when I had to brake suddenly.  I had a huge mess to clean up when I got home and also had to run to a nearby store and buy a cake.  I have since learned to position the cakes so they won't slide.  Live and learn!


Q: Use one word to describe what you feel when you do work with Birthday Dreams (fulfilled, joy, love, hope, etc.)
A:
Fulfilled is a good word to describe how I feel.


Q: What is one of your favorite birthday memories as a child?

A: I'm so old I don't really have a particular birthday memory.  But we did celebrate them as a family.  I was not deprived of that.


Thank you, Mae for all you do and congrats on your 100th delivery!


 



Dalia and Yosef

Q: When did you start volunteering for Birthday Dreams?
A:
Dalia - 2014 for the Auction
Yosef - Same as my mom.

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with Birthday Dreams?
A:
Dalia - I saw their booth at an event. After speaking to their awesome staff and learning more about what they did, I thought that it sounded like a great cause and I wanted to help. I love being able to share this volunteer experience with y son and continue to teach him how to be giving and thankful for everything that he has. I have always taught him that there are people in the world that don't have food to eat, clean water to drink, nice clothes to wear, a roof over their head, let alone toys to play with. I want him to remember that we can help make a difference.
Yosef - Because it sounded fun and I like to help kids that don't have birthdays.


Q: What was the reason you started to volunteer?

A: Dalia - I wanted to help plan their auction, so they could raise money for the kids' birthday parties.

Yosef - Because my mom started.



Q: How do you volunteer for Birthday Dreams? (Make cakes, deliver, on-site parties, etc.)

A: Dalia - I am on their auction planning committee. Yosef and I have been wanting to help with on-site parties for a long time and we want to make cakes, although I don't make the prettiest ones.

Yosef - Do events like Kids Ninja Warrior. I help set-up and it's fun!



Q: What is your favorite part of volunteering?

A: Dalia - I love knowing that I helped kids have a birthday that they wouldn't have otherwise.

Yosef - that I get to help kids that don't have toys.



Q: What has helped you want to volunteer more?

A: Dalia - I really enjoy everyone who is a part of Birthday Dreams and how passionate they are about their mission. I've enjoyed seeing how much the organization has grown these past few years as well.

Yosef - To help kids that don't have birthdays and don't have toys.



Q: Share one of your favorite experiences with Birthday Dreams.

A: Dalia - I loved planning the Kids Ninja Warrior event with my son. He helped make the promotional video and then competed in the event. He also helped set up before the event started and had fun making some of the announcements on the microphone.

Yosef - I liked to do hard things at Kids Ninja Warrior. I'm happy that I did that video for Kids Ninja Warrior too.



Q: Use one word to describe what you feel when you do work with Birthday Dreams (fulfilled, joy, love, hope, etc.)
A:
Dalia - Fulfilled
Yosef - Love <3



Q: What is one of your favorite birthday memories as a child?

A: Dalia - I had a hard time thinking of this one. I'd have to say that I agree with Yosef's answer below.

Yosef - Having friends at my birthday.


Thank you Dalia and Yosef!


 



Meet Christine

Christine is one of our hard working, dedicated volunteers. She helps birthday dreams in so many different areas including cake baking, deliveries, wrapping gifts and volunteering at events.

Q: When did you start volunteering at Birthday Dreams?
A: I started volunteering for Birthday Dreams in April 2015.

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with Birthday Dreams?
A: I moved to Renton in late 2014 and I was looking for a close volunteer opportunity. Birthday seemed like a happy, joyful opportunity and it has been more than I ever imagined.

Q: What was the reason you started to volunteer?
A: I was fortunate to have many birthday celebrations growing up and I wanted to be a small part of giving that back to kids.

Q: How do you volunteer for Birthday Dreams?
A: I have made/donated 75 cakes, done deliveries, I assisted with wrapping for donations event and Barnes and Noble during the holiday season. I have volunteered for the Renton River Days booth and recently have assisted with giving volunteer orientations.

Q: What is your favorite part ofvolunteering?
A: Seeing the happiness Birthdays brings to children and meeting new volunteers.

Q: What has helped you want tovolunteer more?
A: The staff at Birthday Dreamsis amazing, their dedication is infectious and they are a    pleasure to work with.

Q: What is one of your favoritebirthday memories as a child?
A: I wanted a pool party one year for my birthday. Growing up in New England and having a birthday in January it snowed on my birthday many years. A pool party in January was not common. I remember one year I waited and had a pool party in June. It was worth the wait!

Q: Use one word to describe how you feel when you do work with Birthday Dreams.
A: Happy

Thank you, Christine!



Nicole Walker

Meet Nicole Walker! She is one of our amazing party coordinators for Mama's Hands in North Bend and Passage Point in Maple Valley!    
 

Q: When did you start volunteering at Birthday Dreams?
A: MLK day of 2015. I was from a Costco Volunteer group. I had the day off from Costco and the group came to the heaquarters to make birthday goodie bags for the homeless children.

Q: What made you start volunteering?
A: My goal was to get my children involved in giving back to their community. This was the perfect fit. Depending on my family's needs we could volunteer at a shelter, make cakes or donate birthday supplies. We could also have fundraisers at home making our own birthday goodie bags. Birthday Dreams gives homeless children hope. I wanted to be a part of that. I love being part of that.

Q: What do you like to do in your "spare time"?
A: I love to read, go boating/fishing, being with my family and giving back to the community.

Q: Tell us something interesting about you that most people don't know?
A: I am addicted to books. My reading list is longer that I want to admit. I just added another 20 books last week. I just started sewing. Now I make squares for Wounded Soldiers Quilts and baby blankets. I am thinking about making a Seahawks quilt for Royal Dreams Gala in October.

Thank you, Nicole for all you do for Birthday Dreams!



Eastside Catholic School

ThankYouA big thank you to Eastside Catholic for visiting our office and doing much needed miscellaneous projects! They wrapped gifts, wrapped boxes, made goody bags and goody bag ribbons and stuffed envelopes. This is their senior year. They have been coming in for three years, and this is their last year. Thank you for all of your help over the years!! We appreciate all you have done for Birthday Dreams!  



United Way KC Emerging Leaders

The United Way King County Emerging Leaders had a goody bag party on Saturday and made 315 goody bags. Volunteers from Amazon decorated and filled the bags. With 25+ enthusiastic people, it was a lot of fun!



Malaya Medrano

This month we would like to highlight a very special volunteer, Malaya Medrano. Malaya is a very incredible 15-year-old who has been volunteering with Birthday Dreams for about 4 years. When asked why she chose Birthday Dreams she said "Birthday parties have always been a big part of my family. Being able to provide that same joy and happiness to those in need is not only fun and easy, but creates a lasting and positive impact". Malaya does other volunteer work as well, mainly centered around youth/family homelessness. She is also a proud Girl Scout currently working on her Gold award. Malaya says she feels happiest when spending time educating people, or learning from them. "Knowledge is a very powerful tool, and can be gained from or shared with anyone".
Malaya said something that most people don't know about her, is that she really likes reptiles and hopes to have one as pet someday.
Thank you Malaya, we are lucky to have you as a volunteer and voice for Birthday Dreams!