When Elicia Hammond turned the big Four Oh, rather than host her own celebratory bash, she opted to throw a party at a local homeless shelter. Because that's who she is.
A short time later, Elecia joined an organization that provided free birthday cakes for children, but she noted that some senior citizens' birthdays were passing unheralded by family or friends. So she founded a new non-profit organization whose mission is to celebrate milestones for both kids and seniors. Because that's who she is.
When my friend Cristy discovered Birthday Cakes 4 Free through a brief mention in Self Magazine, she immediately contacted them to become volunteer baker/decorator. Elicia explained that there were no chapters in the Raleigh-Durham area, so Cristy started her own. Because that's who she is.
And when Cristy's husband Chad (who is friends with The Beloved) asked if I wanted to help in any way, I asked myself, "Who are you, Jenni Field?"
Sometimes I am the girl who says yes before thinking and then hides in the closet wishing I'd never spoken up.
Sometimes I am the girl who freaks out for no apparent reason and says no to doing a Thing that I am good at.
Sometimes the voice inside my head that says that I am just not good enough takes control. I really hate that voice, but sometimes I listen to it, and sometimes I let it.
I have found over the years that when I am allowing myself to be my best self, I say Yes and jump right in. My intuition takes over and everything seems to click. I really should heed that still small voice inside more often, but sometimes the louder, brasher voices get in the way.
When I read Chad's email, I immediately shot off an intuition-driven response to Cristy saying that I would be happy to help in any way I possibly could, both in baking/decorating and in promoting our local chapter, Birthday Cakes 4 Free, RDU-NC and the Birthday Cakes 4 Free organization as a whole.
And that is how I found myself driving through a cold rain on a recent Wednesday afternoon, packing a 1-2-3-4 vanilla cake with ermine frosting piped with the message, "Happy January Birthday" to a senior citizen's activities center in a nearby town. I might have grumbled a little bit about the weather--I'm not a huge fan of driving in the rain--but when I delivered that cake to a round of applause and a collective "Oooh!" when the box lid was opened, all of the grumbling instantly quieted, and I found myself smiling and welling up. Even though I consider myself a pretty giving person, my heart grew three more sizes, and I could completely grok the beatific smile on the Grinch's face when he came to understand the true meaning of Christmas.
Who am I?
I am a teacher.
I am a baker.
I say yes.
I encourage each and every one of you who is a baker at heart to volunteer your time and your talent to provide birthday smiles to those in your community for whom smiles come all too rarely. And because those smiles are rare, they are all the more precious. To be a part of creating a smile for another is an indescribably satisfying experience.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about Birthday Cakes 4 Free. Spread the word, won't you?