Most importantly, Lenzi’s initiative allows recipients to celebrate their children’s birthdays together—to make the cake and blow out the candles as a family.
Birthday Boxes is partnering with Bridge Communities, a grassroots, nonprofit organization that serves 131 homeless families in DuPage County. Based in Glen Ellyn, the program aims to transition homeless families to self-sufficiency by working with partners to provide mentoring, housing and supportive services.
“The population that Birthday Boxes serves is our neighbors,” says Lenzi. “They are families living a town over, a neighborhood over, or maybe even a door over. Birthday Boxes aids not only what we might call a hidden population—as you would never know these families have struggled with homelessness—but also provides a solution to a subsequent problem of homelessness that we do not typically address.”
Since December 2016, Lenzi has celebrated 38 children’s birthdays via Birthday Boxes and estimates to celebrate a total of 150 birthdays by November 2017.
In addition to her service through Bridge Communities, Lenzi works for Little Friends as an aid to boys with severe autism, for Winfield Park District as a dance instructor and for Stars Family Services as a job coach for adults with disabilities. She also is the marketing and communications intern for the City of West Chicago.
Administered by the College’s Leadership, Ethics and Values program, the Mironda K. Heston Scholarship is awarded annually to one or more North Central College students and funds their work on a human service initiative at home or abroad. The scholarship honors Mironda Heston, a 2002 graduate of the College, who died from a fatal illness she contracted in Haiti while working to improve health care.
For more information regarding Birthday Boxes, email Lenzi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Stephanie Passialis ’17