By Conrad Dudderar
A volunteer group that celebrates one beautiful day in a child’s life has returned in “full force” to Yukon.
The Beautiful Day Foundation is back presenting monthly birthday parties at Yukon’s three intermediate schools for the 2022-23 school year.
Some 724 fourth graders will be celebrated this year at Independence (265), Lakeview (210) and Redstone (249).
“We’re back in full force now,” said Julie Simeroth, the Beautiful Day liaison at Independence. “Each school has had their parties to celebrate July and August birthdays.”
The Beautiful Day Foundation’s program does not judge people by their backgrounds or economic status. These birthday parties focus on celebrating all students equally.
“We let these kids know that they’re seen, loved and appreciated by the community they call home,” Simeroth said.
Beautiful Day came to Yukon Public Schools in fall 2019 when some 1,400 fourth and fifth graders were celebrated at Independence and Lakeview.
However, in-person celebrations had to be suspended in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. These special school parties didn’t start back up again until late 2021.
Beautiful Day lifts spirits of all participants – the students, volunteer participants and school personnel.
“It brings positively into the building,” Simeroth said. “We come in with positive attitudes and happy hearts.
“We all leave with the biggest smiles on our faces.”
Beautiful Day volunteers sit at the birthday table to interact with the students. Each birthday party allows adult volunteers to mentor and listen.
The young celebrants sit at a special table decorated with balloons, Beautiful Day bracelets and birthday cards signed by volunteers.
They enjoy a pizza lunch, cupcakes and soft drinks.
“We sing them ‘Happy Birthday’,” Simeroth added. “Our volunteers tell them face-to-face that the day they were born was a beautiful day!”
More community volunteers (age 18 years and above) are being recruited to help present the parties and engage with the fourth graders.
“As a volunteer, I’ve been shocked, and excited, and inspired, and blessed – and a lot of times heart-broken – about some of the things these children share,” Simeroth said. “They can have you in tears – then belly-laughing two minutes later. It’s just incredible how resilient these kids are.
“There are a lot of kids whose parents have never made a big deal out of their birthdays.”
YUKON IS NO. 1
The Beautiful Day Foundation started in 2013 in Duncan.
The original mission began with a simple statement to elementary school age kids: “The day you were born was a beautiful day. Your life and existence is worthy of being celebrated.”
Beautiful Day now presents student birthdays in about 20 school districts across Oklahoma.
Yukon is the largest although more community support is needed.
YPS Beautiful Day liaisons are Gracie Kroutil at Lakeview, Jennifer Carel at Redstone and Simeroth at Independence.
Corporate sponsorships, donations and fundraisers help cover the $10,000 needed to present birthday parties at the three YPS intermediate sites.
Those funds pay for pizza, cupcakes, plates, napkins, tablecloths, balloons, drinks, bracelets, birthday cards, and desserts.
More funding is needed so the program can again include Yukon fifth graders.
To volunteer or help support Beautiful Day in Yukon, visit www.beautifuldayfoundation.net.