By Robert Tomlinson
Our family is all about birthdays. Not sure why really. My wife, Annette, and I just always have been. We look forward to our children’s parties and begin the planning months before their arrival. Because of this, an exciting part of my job in the Residential Department is making sure that all of the Mansion children receive a good birthday too.
Nearly two years ago, TCM sponsors, Mark and Alicia Hinton toured our campus and felt compelled to take on the task of helping us provide the children with themed parties. The Hintons took this idea and ran with it. They teamed up with Chenelle Holiday, and together, they have thrown every resident a themed party, all the way down to the cake and a small gift.
Each month, I interview the children and they are able to pick any theme they can dream of. Tinkerbelle, Florida Gators, Oriental, Super Heroes, Princess, and more. Once I express the request, the sponsors begin creating posters, chair covers, and the list goes on! No party ever ceases to amaze us and they make the children feel incredibly special.
This week, I was privileged to be in charge of Robert Hyde’s 16th birthday party and his theme was the New Orleans Saints. His houseparent was on vacation and I wanted to make sure it was special for him, so I decided to host it during our Tuesday Life Essentials class. During a short devotion, we asked everyone to say one thing that they like about this young man.
Almost without fail everyone spoke about how encouraging Robert is. He always has a smile, and a kind word to say. The amazing thing is, Robert came to us a depressed young man who cried himself to sleep for several months. Now, because of the joy of the Lord and the security provided by TCM, he is not only happy, becoming a strong leader in our youth group. During the party, he kept saying this was his best birthday ever.
For many of our residents, it is the first time in their lives when someone has stopped to celebrate them in a meaningful way, with things that they care about and a cake with their name on it. It’s those small things most of us take for granted that go deep into the hearts of the kids we care for. With the help of just a few people reaching out, Robert, and the other TCM children are given memories to hold on to, with Birthdays made brighter.