A Birthday to Remember

Blanca stared intently at the calendar on the wall. She wasn’t sure she was ready for what was to come next month. She glanced around and noticed the room was empty. Turning back to the calendar, she sighed. As she flipped from July to August, she saw her name scrawled in the square on August 23rd—her 12th birthday.

Birthdays can be bittersweet for Blanca. Living at a children’s home, birthdays can be a painful reminder of the life you’re missing, the family you wish was there to celebrate. She thought of her mom, who she only saw on occasion. Would her mother remember her birthday this year? Blanca shook her head, trying to erase memories of forgotten birthdays, as she slung her backpack over her shoulder and headed off to school.

After school, Blanca dropped her backpack by the kitchen table and pulled up a chair next to Mary, a local volunteer who has connected with Blanca through Back2Back’s volunteer mentorship program. Each week, Mary spends time with Blanca—doing homework, making crafts or baking a delicious treat. As they talked that day, Mary could tell something was different. Blanca looked down at her science homework, as she quietly opened up about eleven years of birthday disappointment. Determined to give Blanca a birthday to remember, Back2Back staff and Del Norte caregivers coordinated with Blanca’s sponsors to celebrate her in a special way.

On August 23rd, Blanca’s birthday arrived with a bang. Back2Back staff and volunteers arranged a spa day to pamper Blanca and her friends. She gasped when she saw the group of friends gathered to celebrate her big day. The day far exceeded Blanca’s expectations. Feet were washed and toes painted. Hands were massaged with lotion and fingernails were filed. Blanca, who loves to bake, was ecstatic to receive a cupcake maker. As the day drew to a close, the girls indulged in Blanca’s favorite dessert, vanilla bean cheesecake, before gathering around their friend for a special birthday prayer.

After the party, Blanca looked at the calendar again. She put her fingers on her birthday again, but this time tears of joy streamed down her cheeks. Smiling, she wiped her eyes as she slipped her perfectly manicured toes into bed. Blanca no longer dreads August. In fact, she can’t wait to celebrate again next year. Thank you for being like family for the children at Del Norte Children’s Home.