"You bless people when you allow them to help you."
Extraordinary Birthdays Founder, Schinnell Leake joins True Conversations Founder, Meghan Enriquez, for a True Conversation about the value of your VILLAGE as a woman. Extraordinary Birthdays is a non profit dedicated to providing individualized birthday parties for children in homeless shelters as well as breathing belief into their self worth. www.extraordinarybirthdays.org to learn more.
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SCHINNELL LEAKE, Founder & Executive Director
It was the “extra special feeling” Schinnell Leake felt a birthday party brought to the ordinary moments in life of a child that lead her to establish Extra-Ordinary Birthdays in 2010. After learning that more than 2,000 children live in homeless shelters throughout the Washington, D.C. area, Schinnell decided not to, in the words of Sam Rayburn, “… wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action, but try to use ordinary situations.” Eating cake, singing Happy Birthday, playing games, opening presents are all ordinary things in a birthday party that can be taken for granted. However, when you are homeless, life is anything but ordinary and the means to pay for or even think about planning a birthday party is often out of a parent’s reach when overwhelmed with just securing a warm, safe, and permanent place for your family to sleep each night.
The mission of Extra-Ordinary Birthdays (EOB) is to transform the lives of homeless children by creating personalized birthday parties that make them feel valued and inspire moments of delight in their lives. EOB believes every child deserves to celebrate their birthday, to know that their family and others care about them and their growth matters, which contributes to their self-esteem and worth. EOB brings the simple joy of birthday parties to homeless children from babies to teens in shelters in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia each month shining a light on homeless children and honoring them for who they are despite their circumstances.
The only organization of its kind in the capital area that throws personalized birthday parties for homeless children to make them feel recognized and valued, EOB this year launched two new programs to continue their work of layering self-worth.
Extra-Ordinary Moms (EOM) is a recognition program for homeless mothers with the purpose of inspiring and motivating their self-worth through positive reinforcement, personal development and membership in a supportive community. The EOM Program encourages determined mothers to feel proud of the progress they make each day to be the best mom they can be with the resources they have. When mom is recognized and cared for we believe she is better suited to celebrate life and foster a healthy level of self-esteem in their children.
Our Extraordinary Readers (EOR) program supports literacy for all children, regardless of socioeconomic status. It permits each child who receives an Extraordinary Birthdays celebration to be treated to a very special party favor—a brand new, age appropriate children’s book, chosen especially for them. Through EOR we encourage self-worth and forward thinking toward a bright future for homeless children as well as pride in ownership of a new book.
As a mother, Schinnell knows how important it is for children to feel confident and have self-worth. Through Extra-Ordinary Birthdays, Schinnell has thrown more than 450 birthday parties and currently partners with eight homeless shelters in the metropolitan area. Celebrations that show the children that they are worth celebrating and truly one of a kind.