Take a Break: Birthday Gifts from the Heart
Updated: Thursday, March 27 2014, 07:15 PM EDT
SCHENECTADY -- A celebration of life. Everyone can relate to being excited when it's your birthday, especially our kids. But for children going through difficult times in homeless shelters, a birthday party might be the last thing they'd expect. One woman who goes above and beyond to make their special days the best they'll ever celebrate.
Saturday morning at the City Mission in Schenectady is a day for which four little kids have been waiting with bright eyes and big hopes. Fazana Saleem-Ismail spent years working in homeless shelters like this one.
"That just haunted me for many many years before I had my own kids," Saleem-Ismail said. Having that in my mind when I started having birthday parties for my own children made me realize how much of an impact it had on them."
Fazana has a day job, a budget to meet at home -- but she wanted to do something more. So she started Jazzy Sun Birthdays.
"I wanted to work with homeless organizations that dealt with children and gave them the benefit of having birthday parties at a time of their life where things are in a lot of flux and they may not have as much of a chance to be children," Fazana said.
There are four birthdays this day -- Kayce Dima has three of them, all born on the same day! "For someone to volunteer their time and set up a birthday party for your kids and everything, it touches your heart in many ways," she said.
"I like making them feel like kings and queens for a day. My strong belief is that a birthday is something that's special to every child and every person it's the day you were put on this planet.
The smiles on their faces make Fazana realize why she does what she does -- and makes her thankful for what she has. "The support of my own children, who understand that mommy needs to be away on Saturdays or having them help me stuff goody bags or sit in a car surrounded by balloons," she said.
Fazana doesn't look for thanks, but receives many from the volunteers who step up to help even if Fazana doesn't ask.
"The amount of support Iv'e gotten from the community has been an absolute blessing and I've never encountered such generous people in my life," she said.At the end of the day, it's about making sure the kids are happy, and they are. Kayce Dima said, "the memories that are left with the kids are forever."If you can help Fazana out with any donations, look for "Jazzy Sun Birthdays" on Facebook.