Meet the Young Volunteer Bringing Birthday Joy to Nursing Home Residents

Daily Point of Light # 7835 Jun 17, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Anya Talwar. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Anya Talwar’s remarkable journey in volunteering began when she was in the third grade. Since then, she has consistently brightened the lives of nursing home residents and many other groups of people, through her dedicated involvement with The Birthday Giving Program, where she serves as the event manager. Anya’s enthusiasm and genuine compassion make her an exceptional volunteer, and upon speaking with her, it’s easy to see why her demeanor would put a smile on anyone’s face.

Anya’s primary role involves bringing joy to nursing home residents by organizing monthly birthday parties. These aren’t just any parties; they are lifelines of joy for many residents, particularly those who have no family or friends to celebrate with. Anya not only organizes these events but also ensures that each birthday person receives special attention, complete with balloons, teddy bears and personalized presents. Her dedication extends to providing all necessary supplies, showing a level of responsibility and commitment that is rare for her age.

Anya’s role as the event manager requires her to commit around 15 hours per month to organizing and executing these birthday parties. Her willingness to help others and her innate ability to lead and inspire have not only enriched the lives of many residents but have also set a high standard for what young volunteers can achieve.

Through her work with The Birthday Giving Program, Anya helps those in her community celebrate their special day in a way that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to. Read on to find out more about Anya’s work with The Birthday Giving Program and her hopes for the organization’s future.

Tell us about your volunteer role.

My role in The Birthday Giving Program is event manager. My main role is to organize our birthday parties that we host in-person. I’m responsible for baking cakes when we’re able to do that, and for organizing our birthday bags. I help organize which events we’ll have for our residents. We rely on a majority of fundraising, including a lot of great local donors who contribute to our cause.

What inspired you to get started with this initiative?

My family has always valued birthdays. We’ve always done big birthday celebrations. That was something I’ve always known. When my sister and I were younger, it came to us. We realized that not everyone has the means or resources to celebrate their birthdays. So we started The Birthday Giving Program, because we wanted to start giving that special little gift or cake to celebrate their birthdays.

Why is this issue so important, especially for seniors?

The people we’re working with, in residential programs, nursing homes and shelters, unfortunately don’t necessarily have a lot of visitors. The majority of them don’t have a special birthday celebration with their loved ones. So we wanted to focus on them first, as one of our main populations for our program, because we wanted to make sure they feel celebrated on their birthdays.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

I would say the most rewarding part is seeing people at the nursing home or shelter. I still remember one of our residents from one of our first parties, when I was in third grade, and I still see that resident every time we go back to celebrate their birthday. It’s so rewarding when we get to go back and continue to celebrate these people.

What have you learned through your experience as a volunteer?

I’ve learned that it’s really very simple to put a smile on someone’s face. That’s been rewarding as well, throughout the course of the program. Our parties are not anything very extravagant. They’re more about community and people coming together, and that’s been amazing to see.

Are there any future partnerships, programs or events you are excited about?

For The Birthday Giving Program itself, we’re currently working on expanding. We have chapters in all 50 states and we’re working on chapters all around the world. Then, for the future, my cousin and I just co-founded another branch of the program called The School Supply Project. We’re currently working to bring supplies to schools and teachers who need these items. We’ve been working with the U46 District in Illinois. That’s been really exciting, to expand what we’ve done with The Birthday Giving Program and bring it into another chapter of our work.

Why should others get involved with causes they care about?

I believe it’s important to volunteer just to get involved with your community. It’s such a rewarding experience. It’s something that I was introduced to very young, and I’m really grateful for that. It’s shown me a new perspective on life. I’m really grateful I’ve been able to meet so many new people and have such great experiences through the program. I’d recommend that if you’re able to fundraise and get involved through volunteering, it’s a great opportunity for the future.

Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

Especially since the pandemic, there are a lot more resources online, and a lot more ways to donate than there were before. For us personally, The Birthday Giving Program has a page on our website to donate. We’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so all of those donations go straight to our birthday bags, cakes and celebrations. So even if one-on-one interactions through volunteering may not work for you at the time, donations are always welcome.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Anya? Find local volunteer opportunities.


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