POB’s Cheryl Dender with a sample diaper “cake” made at the event.

Easing The Burden For New Mothers In Need

Birthday Wishes director Jamie Rapfogel and Regional Manager Susan Gold. (Contributed photos)

Two fierce advocates for youth in need recently joined forces for a heartwarming fundraising event benefiting homeless new mothers. On Wednesday evening, February 7th, about 50 women gathered to hear New York Times bestselling author Regina Calcaterra speak and help Jamie Rapfogel, director of Birthday Wishes Long Island, kick off a project called Baby BIRTHday Bundles, supporting new moms in shelters.

Many in attendance had read Regina’s heart-wrenching story of intermittent homelessness and foster care trauma told in her emotionally powerful memoir, Etched in Sand, written a decade ago. But hearing her relate it in person proved even more captivating and inspiring. Thanks to perceptive educators and other caring adults with whom she had the good fortune to cross paths, Regina thrived to become a successful attorney and now advocates for homeless youth. She is particularly passionate about supporting older foster children whom she noted often go “unseen.”

After Regina’s talk, there was some work to do! Diaper “cakes” and bathtubs filled with essential baby supplies were assembled by each attendee, all ready to be gifted to new moms in need. “Consistent with our belief that every child should be celebrated on the day they were born, Birthday Wishes LI is introducing the Baby BIRTHday Bundle for mothers living in Long Island family and domestic violence shelters,” said Jamie. “After polling our shelters and speaking to parents who receive our services, we have developed the perfect package to make the transition easier,” she explained.

About Birthday Wishes LI: a 501c3 organization, its group of dedicated volunteers makes a difference in the lives of homeless children and their families by bringing them the joy of a birthday party. Birthday Wishes ensures that children are not denied this important rite of passage simply because of their living situation. “Our goal is to ensure that children experiencing the trauma of homelessness have the opportunity to celebrate their birthdays joyfully, surrounded by family, friends, and others who care,” Jamie said.

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—Submitted by Barbara Mars

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