MAKING BIRTHDAYS JUST A LITTLE BIT HAPPIER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2010
For more information, contact Michele Talwani – 603.682.6085
PHOTO: ONE “FUR” THE BOOKS A Families in Transition youth participant meets a furry friend and makes a lasting memory at a zoo-themed “Birthday to Remember” celebration.
One woman’s quest to provide homeless youth with a “Birthday to Remember” finds success at Families in Transition
MANCHESTER, NH – In summer of 2009, Peg Bremner of Chester, NH, was disheartened and tired, ready give up on a dream onto which she’d held for nearly a year and half
For months in her position as the Bedford Stop & Shop’s head cake decorator, she’d seen the smiles of lucky children leaving the store with one, even two cakes to celebrate their birthdays. She became fixed on one thought: did children in worse situations—poverty, homelessness—even get a cake? “Every little face I saw, I’d think, ‘Ah–somebody who isn’t getting a cake,” she recalls.
This thought became a simple plan of action: to provide cakes for homeless and low-income children on their birthdays. In a final attempt to move her idea forward, Peg reached out to a customer whom she knew had fundraising clout and community connections: Mimi Silverman, a longtime Bedford resident who introduced her to Families in Transition.
With Mimi and Families in Transition, Peg finally found the support she had been seeking for so long. Peg’s simple idea was about to blossom into a project that, since its inception just a little over a year ago, has created happy memories for countless homeless youth.
Every two months since July 2009, FIT’s “A Birthday to Remember” program has been providing group birthday celebrations for FIT youth participants, many of whose parents have experienced homelessness or been at risk for homelessness. The parties come complete with pizza, ice cream, goodie bags, decorations and, of course, cakes—each lovingly crafted and donated by Peg herself.
It wasn’t long before the greater Manchester community began to rally behind the project. Largely through word of mouth, news of the program spread and brought in new donors for nearly every aspect of the celebrations. In one notable case, Peg’s husband, Gary Bremner, happened to mention the parties when he was picking up pizzas one evening at G & P Pizza in Chester, NH. “[He] thought they might be able to donate pizza once in awhile—it was actually for one party at first,” Peg recalls. “Then, they said they would do ten pizzas for each party.”
As the program grows, Peg, Mimi, and the rest of the FIT Birthday Party Planning Committee continue to seek new ways to get the community involved and to sustain—and maybe expand—the project. But with growing numbers of homeless youth in New Hampshire and rising costs, the parties, at an average cost of $400, need sponsorship to continue.
It is the Peg’s greatest hope that this need can be met. As for her part, she plans on staying involved for a long time. But, if anything should happen to her, she already has a replacement cake decorator lined up. Dreaming of birthday celebrations well into the future, she has only a few words for her next-in-line: “If I’m not there, you’d better show up. And bring a cake.”
Families in Transition is a nonprofit organization that provides safe, affordable housing and comprehensive social services to individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, enabling them to gain self-sufficiency and respect. FIT also owns and operates two thrift stores in Manchester and Concord, NH which serve as an economic engine to help pay for services they provide. For more information about FIT and the stores, visit www.fitnh.org or call 603-641-9441. To get involved with the “A Birthday to Remember” program, call 603-935-7900, ext. 1717.