Pictured: Foster Teen Birthday volunteers (from left to right): Karen Wekstein, Thelma Nied, Shelli Richter, Cecilia Cristol and Lonnie Steinberg! Thank you for sponsoring a foster teen for his/her birthday!!

Celebrating birthdays is the one thing the teens in JFCS’s care want the most. They want to be acknowledged and experience the love and care put into someone selecting a special gift for them. They want a favorite dessert. They want to feel normal, and it’s been a long time since most have been able to do anything remotely (no pun intended) normal!

Our teens have missed six months of birthday celebrations, so we thought, “maybe we can still celebrate…just a little bit differently.” So how can we still celebrate during a pandemic?

It’s still unsafe to have in-person celebrations in restaurants, and we have come up with an alternate way to celebrate until we can safely resume face-to-face interactions When we started the program, the concept was to provide our volunteers with the opportunity to meet a foster teen and celebrate their birthday in a restaurant over lunch.

Since we can’t do that, we have restructured the celebrations to be virtual. We have contacted volunteers that previously signed up, and asked if they still want to participate. For those who agreed, we asked them to: 1) Shop for gift(s) and a cake/dessert for a teen in our foster program from a wishlist they filled out. 2) Bring the gift(s) and cake/dessert on a pre-selected day to the 8540 Baycenter location, where it will be picked up by the teen’s caseworker and delivered later that day. 3) Send a “Happy Birthday” video, for the teen.

The plan may not be perfect, but it is something we feel is important to resume – both for our teens and for our volunteers. To get more information on the birthday program, contact Donna O’Steen at dosteen@jfcsjax.org.