I received the coolest gift in the mail recently. Inside the envelope was a picture of a group of friends celebrating a birthday, and a cheque to to support what I do at Hope for the Sold. I was intrigued. What was this all about?
On the back of the picture was a note from Bec Goodman, the birthday girl. She is part of Birthday Wishes 2010, an initiative started by a group of friends to make a difference in the world. On each person’s birthday, instead of going out for a meal or spending money on a group activity, they pool their money together and give it to an organization that is chosen by the person whose birthday is being celebrated.
Bec explained that while living in Turkey she learned of the plight of trafficked women, and now is passionate about addressing this social injustice. This led her to choose Hope for the Sold on her birthday! I contacted Ben Pavey, who played a key role in starting Birthday Wishes 2010, and asked him some questions about what they are doing.
Last year around Christmas, a group of friends went out to a restaurant for a birthday party after dinner time, but we each still spent about $20 on a meal that we didn’t really need. I looked around and thought, ‘we are supposed to be students with little disposable money, but we clearly aren’t.’ So maybe we could be putting this money to better use. And that’s how the idea of sharing our birthdays with different charities and organizations came about.
How has it changed the way you view and celebrate birthdays a a group?
It’s been really neat to see the guests at the parties grow larger and larger as we’ve gone through the year. We’ve celebrated almost 20 birthdays so far, and have had from 10 to 40 people join in. It’s been great to hear people’s excitement and eagerness to be part of something like this; redirecting our focus onto others rather than ourselves.
There are so many great ideas out there. People just need to learn how to escape from their own comfort and complacency, and this is how we’ve decided to do that. It’s sometimes unnerving to change things up in your life – afraid of what others might think of you, or whether it will catch on and people will want to follow that movement. But regardless, if you feel in your heart that you should make this change in your life, then do it.
What has been the most rewarding part of this for you guys? Any cool lessons you have learned or stories that have come out of this?
We’ve got a facebook group page for Birthday Wishes which has 50 members, ranging from all different ages and social circles. And this initiative has really brought a lot of these people together. It’s helped to build new friendships and a stronger community.
We always get together at somebody’s house whether for games, a barbecue or a beach party. These things bring people together so much closer than any big dinner party at a restaurant. There is time to dig deeper in conversation, get to know one another on a more personal level, and put whatever money we might have to a much better use! Overall, it’s just been a huge blessing to see this little seed of an idea build into so much more, where 50 young adults are actively giving away their money to charities throughout the entire year (over $4000 to date for the 2010 year), and in doing so building community with one another. It’s pretty awesome.
Wow. I am blown away. What a creative way to make the world a better place. Thanks so much Bec for thinking of Hope for the Sold on your birthday, it is such an honour!