If there’s one thing I know, it’s that I may never have a normal celebration again: philanthropy events and service are so worthwhile, and are even more effective when shared with others. People want to do good, they really do. It’s all about enabling that good to happen, and opening up segues for discussion, improvement, and awareness. Many of the guests left saying it was the best party of their lives. A few said it was the best day of their lives. This was incredibly humbling to hear and is a testament to the power of emotional connection that was created--I think it was the charity aspect of the party that made it so successful.
Morgan, 16 years old.
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Meeting Lulu at KindCamp 2014, I was inspired by her idea of a philanthro-party event to make my birthday more meaningful. What society normally calls a “Sweet 16” celebration has the potential to be much more than that: instead of merely partying, it’s possible and sensible to make a difference in the world. Community service, charity, and animals have always been a huge part of my life, so I decided to combine these passions under one unified theme: benefitting a nationally recognized animal welfare/protection organization, the Humane Society of the United States.
To give the event a mature, elegant feel, I went with a theme of “Rags to Riches.” When the guests arrived, we started off the day rock climbing, which served as an allegory for team building and the importance of helping each other along in the world. The rock climbing allowed us to see the importance of trust and compassion and hard work; since we were belaying each other, our friends’ lives were in our hands. It was an experience that really grounded us and allowed us to develop empathy for one another as inhabitants of Earth: we cheered for the girl reaching the next foothold, and shouted supportive words for the girl or losing her grip and dangling forty feet in the air....
When we arrived back home, I had set up a DIY garden gala setting with all-white drapes blowing in the breeze and a general theme of purity. I wanted my guests to feel relieved after exerting themselves for a few hours, and I wanted to emphasize how fortunate we are that we are able to experience something like a party, when many people and creatures on this earth do not know comfort. As we sat and dined, we discussed the significance of helping others and making the world a better place, and how best to do that when it seems like we are too young or otherwise too busy to do anything. There’s always a way to help, from donations to volunteering and everything in between. I asked that in lieu of gifts, my guests would bring donations for the Humane Society, and the funds we eventually raised to donate made the number 16 - and my birthday - seem insignificant in comparison, which is exactly how I hoped it would be.
What I really wanted my guests to garner from the experience was the sensation of coming together under the knowledge that if we’re all in this together, we can use resources wisely and make the most of our time here. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of every day life, and it’s easy to forget that our actions have consequences. I wanted to bring that into perspective and have my guests focus on a larger theme of unification under a common goal.