In 2017, 119 children each received a bag of birthday goodies thanks to an amazing mother and daughter duo: Abby and her mom Susan Strand.
The Strand family are multi-generational advocates of YWCA and its mission. Susan's mother served on the Board of Directors and has been a Luncheon table captain for years. The Strands were able to watch FVI be built right outside their door. FVI, or Family Village Issaquah, is a 196-unit permanent housing facility for low-income families.
"It was important to me that Abby have the experience and know the importance of giving back."
- Susan Strand
In 2013, a year into the birthday bag program, Abby and four of her best friends threw a joint birthday party and invited all of their friends to celebrate. Instead of asking for gifts, the 13 year-old girls asked for donations for the birthday bag program. They collected hundreds of items to go in the bags, including cake mix, frosting, candles, and small toys.
"Here is the real story, the real good in this small gesture that started with Abby and I. It is the ripple effect...I have introduced the birthday bag project to the residents at a local retirement community. They have donated the items for and put together over 50 bags - we have no reached a whole other generation."
- Susan Strand
Tiffany Gaul, a Director of the FVI-based childcare and preschool Bright Horizons, caught wind of the birthday bag program and loved the idea. She and her daughter soon joined Abby and Susan by providing half of the birthday bags each month. Their work inspired Susan's nephew to begin collecting donations on his birthday and her niece's Girl Scout troop to volunteer their time to the program.
"This is what I was looking for in 2012 when we walked into FVI. Abby came home and told me how excited the kids were about the birthday bags, she even got to deliver a few. I saw the connection, the realization that she had made a difference."
- Susan Strand
The concern and compassion of a few can grow into a communal force that makes a huge impact. The work that Abby and Susan do warms our hearts to the core. We are so thankful to have them as YWCA volunteers.
If you would like to support the birthday bag program, YWCA's Family Village Issaquah is accepting donations! They are looking for birthday supplies such as box cake mix, frosting, candles, birthday napkins, and small toys. These items can be dropped off at the Issaquah office, or you may contact Victoria Thai(email@example.com or 425.270.6816), the Community Resources Coordinator, for other donation arrangements.
"Thank you Susan and Abby for making a difference in our children's lives and bringing joy to them on their special day."
- Victoria Thai
Kendyl Hardy is the Volunteer Services Coordinator at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. As an avid volunteer herself, Kendyl finds volunteering is a way to grow personally and as a community. Kendyl graduated with a degree in Public Relations with a concentration in nonprofit management. Throughout her college career, she worked to highlight the importance of civic service to sustain society and feature dialogue about issues affecting our communities.
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