April 2012

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work to inspire Someone You Should Know: Jennifer Savino By Elishah Oesch Every child deserves a great birthday party at least once in his or her life. For some that means an over-the-top bash, for others it's a room full of balloons and a big slice of cake. Sadly, not every child is in a position to receive a birthday party or even a present. Case in point? Many of the children who call the YWCA Madison home. It's a place that offers a new start, providing housing to women and their children at a time when they need it most. Often seeking safety and security from otherwise terrible situations ranging from abuse to poverty, the YWCA's mission is to help both mother and children begin anew. But as they work to build job skills, finan- cial stability and a safe housing situation for their families, many of these mothers deeply desire one more thing: to honor their chil- dren's birthdays. When they simply have no means to do so, that's where The Birthday Lady comes in! The Birthday Lady, or Jennifer Savino as she's more commonly known, is a regular face at the YWCA. Savino has been person- ally planning a special "birthday box" for every child staying at the YWCA for over a year. "I love the fact that I can be a part of making a child feel special and happy on their birthday. I think every child should feel like a king or a queen on [that day]," she says. Savino, herself a mother to two young boys, first got the idea to throw birthday parties for other kids after a conversation with her mother. Looking back on her life, Savino's mother described her poor upbringing. It left a lasting impression on her. "We started talking about how it was sad for her as a child when she didn't have birthday parties and she still remembered that," Savino says. Savino knew she didn't want any other child to carry a similar memory throughout his or her life. Now, after her efforts, they won't have to. About once a week, Savino drops off a personalized box packed with balloons, party favors, presents and a cake at the YWCA front Nonprofit Profil: YWCA Madison What it is: A nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empower- ing women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. How to get involved: Volunteers assist in tutoring adults and planning children's programs, helping women prepare for work and more. Find details online. 36 BRAVA Magazine April 2012 desk. She prepares them for children of all ages, ranging from 1 to 15. After her delivery, Savino makes a point of promptly leaving, without ever being seen by the birthday boy or girl, or their family. "It's very important that it doesn't come from me. I think that it must be very hard for a parent not to be able to give their child a birthday party," she explains. To date, she has never met a single recipient of her birthday box- Elishah Oesch is co-anchor of WKOW 27's Wake Up Wisconsin. Find more about Savino on the Someone You Should Know page at ••• es, nor heard a thank you from them directly, but she likes it that way. To her, simply knowing she's delivered something special is the greatest gift. The birthday boxes: Savino's birthday boxes are entirely self-funded. To contribute in any way, contact the YWCA's main office. Upcoming events: On May 24, the YWCA hands out the annual Women of Distinction Awards to six well-deserving women. Tickets are available online. For more information: (608) 257-1436 or Photo by Amber Arnold

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