Stephanie Frazier Grimm founded the Confetti Foundation, a nonprofit that supplies birthday parties to hospitalized children, in January of 2014. She has also founded other startups, including Mama & Bambino, which provided personally designed gifts and accessories, in 2005, which she sold in 2006. More recently, in 2008, she founded Couture Parties, which plans events in the Newport area. Here, she discusses the origins and goals of the Confetti Foundation.
PBN: How did the nonprofit get its start and how many sick kids’ birthdays did it help celebrate in the first year?
FRAZIER GRIMM: I originally thought of the idea when my godson was born prematurely in the prenatal unit in a Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mich. During one of their visits to the hospital, one of the families there was celebrating their little boy’s first birthday. I asked my best friend what the hospital was doing for the child’s birthday, and she said that they give him a gift but do not provide an actual party; it was up to the family to get the party decorations to decorate his room.
Being a professional event planner, my wheels started turning. I was on a mission to see if this was the policy for just this hospital or all children’s hospitals. After months of research, I was put in contact with the child life services department at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and I worked with them to decide what party supplies they needed and allowed for hospital parties. After we solidified what could be put in the boxes, I officially started the nonprofit and applied for my 501c3 status. In our first year, 2014, we celebrated 525 birthdays.
PBN: How does the party happen and what goes into the kits?
FRAZIER GRIMM: We provide boxes nationwide, depending 100 percent on volunteers that live near children’s hospitals, to make this happen.
Once you tell us you would like to get involved, we share with you literature that you present to the child life services department at your local children’s hospital. Once the hospital agrees they would like the program, we then mail to the volunteer (we call them our “birthday fairy” or “birthday hero”) five themed boxes (two for girls, two for boys, one universal) that they drop off to the hospital personally.
When it is a child’s birthday, the hospital’s child life services department lets the family or child chose from the five designs for what they would like their party theme to be. The volunteer checks in with the hospital once every two months to see how their supply is and if they need more boxes.
Sometimes, if the hospital gives us enough time, we provide a personalized birthday for the child depending on their favorites. In the past, we have been able to get bakeries and local entertainment to donate their time to really celebrate the child’s birthday. The nurses and parents help with hanging the decorations.
In each themed birthday box is a happy birthday banner, two tissue decorations, four cups, spoons, forks, plates, napkins, and straws, plus stickers, coloring sheets, crayons, and a handmade birthday card.
PBN: Dozens of hospitals across the country participate in distributing your birthday kits. How did you expand beyond Rhode Island borders?
FRAZIER GRIMM: We have been so grateful for social media and word of mouth. With my business Couture Parties, I have an amazing network of industry friends who have helped spread the word globally and get other communities involved in what we are doing, spreading birthday cheer.
PBN: How do you raise funds to support your mission?
FRAZIER GRIMM: To date, we solely have been funded from private donations. We had our first large fundraiser on Aug. 4, called Boats & Bowties held in Newport, and were able to raise $25,000.
We have been working diligently to get corporate sponsors and grant money. Since our mission is unique, we do not fit into a category for most grants. But we know if we can share the happiness that we are providing, it will prove that happiness aids in the healing process and we will be able to get the funding we need to continue spreading the hope that birthdays bring.
PBN: What are your long-term goals for the nonprofit?
FRAZIER GRIMM: We have big goals. Currently, we celebrate with 75 hospitals. We would like to be in all children’s hospitals across the U.S. – approximately 240 hospitals. To do this, we need to have volunteers in all of these communities who want to give back and spread our mission.
We are looking to partner with a corporation who can share our mission nationwide and enhance the birthday party experience. With more funding, we will be able to streamline our volunteer program, provide custom-branded boxes that the supplies come in (we want the boxes to look like a birthday present), and assist in our shipping and printing costs (our biggest expense).
We hope to have a warehouse someday where we can store all of our supplies and where groups of volunteers can come and pack the boxes and cut the banners. We have so much to give and celebrate, and we are passionate about sharing our talents of creating parties with children who are in an unexpected circumstance, being in the hospital on their birthday.