16,200 Cupcakes and Counting

Left to right: Birthday Cupcake Program Co-founder Diane Bates, Debbie Smith, Kathy Zamzow, Debi Thorp, Program Founder Kathy Kettman, Karen Clark (Andrea Daniels not pictured)

How a group of women are making birthday wishes come true for Lydia Place families.

“I (Kathy) had this idea after watching a special many years ago about a group of women back East who had started something similar to this program. I was inspired with their story and thought some day I would like to do something like this in our community.”

In 2012, Kathy retired and began using her free time to develop her cupcake idea further. She knew there were families in our community who would benefit from the cupcake program, but wasn’t sure how to go about reaching the most number of children. Then one day while reading The Bellingham Herald, she came across an article featuring Lydia Place’s new Executive Director, Emily O’Connor. “I called Emily and told her about my idea and she asked me to put a proposal together and we would meet and talk about it.”

Lydia Place saw a definite need and benefit of Kathy’s idea for kids living at their Gladstone House (formerly known as Transitional Housing Program). She recalls her excitement getting the green light, “I was thrilled because I felt that no child should ever have to go without feeling special on their birthday.”

And like that, the Birthday Cupcake Program had a birth of it’s own to celebrate.

The first two years Kathy baked cupcakes for 5 to 6 birthdays a month, soon after the requests began to grow larger and larger. “The numbers just kept increasing as the case loads increased, so I asked Diane and she said she would love to help. Between the two of us we were able to cover the birthdays.”

A recent batch of yummy cupcakes delivered to Lydia Place by the Birthday Cupcake Program for a 1-year-old boy.

Now both retired and beginning to travel, Kathy and Diane needed more support to cover birthdays in their absence, because like Kathy said before, “no child should ever have to go without feeling special on their birthday,” and at the time some months had up to 15 birthdays.

So Diane put her recruiting cap on and found five wonderful friends Karen Clark, Debbie Smith, Andrea Daniels, Debi Thorp, and Kathy Zamzow who were eager to start baking for kiddos in need.

The Birthday Cupcake Program now serves children spread across several Lydia Place housing programs. Each month a Lydia Place case manager sends a compiled list of birthdays to the cupcake volunteer group and they pick which birthdays work for their schedule.

Kathy is proud to announce the Birthday Cupcake Program so far has delivered batches of 24 cupcakes to over 675 birthdays since the program first started. “24 cupcakes per birthday is 16,200 cupcakes, yikes!” “But all I know is that every one of these kids felt special on their birthday, and that is what makes this program successful for all these years.”

Feeling inspired by this story?

There are several ways you can make a difference in our community through Lydia Place. Visit our Volunteer page to learn more about volunteer opportunities with us.

If you’re interested in starting a project, hosting a drive or event to benefit Lydia Place we’d love to hear about it!

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