When an 8 year old boy actively supports his mom’s recovery from Lymphoma, we know it’s time to celebrate.
Emil marked his 8th birthday by raising close to $500.00 for St Mary’s Hospital Foundation, the place that was pivotal in helping his mom, Danina, recover from Lymphoma last year.
In his mom’s words: “Emil is a devoted and loving son and played a major role in helping me to overcome Lymphoma. His ECHOage celebration was another way for him to say thanks for the loving care and support I received at St. Mary’s Hospital.”
At ECHOage, we are endlessly moved by children like Emil. Over and over we see inspiring examples of kids doing much more than adults had ever expected. Emil’s actions make these words come true.
Congratulations Emil! You are an ECHOage Hero. We know you will inspire many children to follow in your footsteps. The world is a better place because of you.
Words are powerful. My dad was an English teacher and word junkie so we were always taught to use our words carefully. The lesson has stuck with me and I have found that in raising my kids, I’m careful about not using vocabulary words that I don’t like. There are certain words not in my personal dictionary, that I’m pretty sure they’ve never heard me use. The short list includes:
I just don’t like this term and never have. It feels exclusive and it inevitably leads to annoying sentences like “I’m not your BEST FRIEND anymore” and “Sorry, but Jenny is already my BEST FRIEND”. I find the newer terms like “BFF” and “Bestie” far less annoying because they seem to be used more generally and don’t seem so serious. The term “best friend” feels like it should have a ring and commitment ceremony attached to it.
Just because a girl is sporty and adventurous does not make her like a boy. It makes her sporty and adventurous. These kinds of gender stereotypes have no place in my home (or society).
“Fat” and “skinny”
As a general rule, I don’t speak about appearances in front of my kids. I specifically try to stay away from comments regarding body shape when describing how someone looks, and particularly these two very loaded words.
My kids have never heard me say this word and certainly not in the context of me going on one. My hope is that my daughters will never feel like they need to diet. I like to think that I will face most parental challenges with a certain level of comfort and confidence. I know the exception is eating disorders. I have three girls and if any of them were sticking their fingers down their throat, you would find me in a corner rocking in the fetal position. The thought of facing eating disorders horrifies me and my heart goes out to families raising girls and dealing with it.
“Waitress” and “Mailman”
My kids never hear me use gender when describing a job or career. Yep, this PC mama says, “Server” and “Mail Carrier”, to name just two.
“I hate you”
My kids have never heard me use this term nor has anyone else. I don’t think I’ve ever used this phrase. Words cannot be taken back, even when you are sorry you said them.
Do you have parenting tips on any words that you keep out of your personal dictionary? What words are on the “no say” list in your house? Do you hear any words that make you cringe or that you try not to use in front of your children?
Julie Cole – Founder Mabels Labels
That’s what this incredible family has accomplished using ECHOage! Wendy Labelle and her children, Ella and Griffin, have become our Quebec ECHOage heroes; they are committed to making the world a better place, one celebration at a time. Read the testimonials from this generous, inspiring family!
“We LOVE ECHOage! We were first introduced to the idea by neighbors who were hosting an ECHOage birthday party. My daughter, Ella, thought it was a very interesting concept and decided on her own that she wanted to do the same! It didn’t take too much convincing to get my son, Griffin, on board as well.”
“They have always been big-hearted and charitable – donating clothes, toys and food quite willingly. As a matter of fact, they look forward to their ECHOage parties every year and tell me way in advance which charities they want to help. My daughter and son both like to donate to The Montreal Children’s Hospital, not only because I worked there for several years, but also because Ella had surgery there.”
“We have had nothing but positive feedback from our invitees, and the online invitations and thank you notes are convenient and easy to use. My kids like the concept because, not only do they get to help a charity, but the money they receive gives them the freedom to choose their own gifts, or save it for a rainy day. They proudly tell friends and family that they have raised money for their charity of choice. We will definitely continue using ECHOage for many celebrations to come…”
A huge thank you to the Labelle family for the positive ways they’ve influenced their friends and their community! Wishing you many more happy celebrations from everyone at ECHOage.com!
Hurray for these birthday boys! Brothers, Jordan and Isaac made turning 2 and 4 extra special by supporting two incredible organizations, Make-A-Wish Foundation and The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) Foundation at their recent ECHOage birthday parties.
Feeling blessed by their children, Kathy and David were looking for ways to help other families who have not been as fortunate. “Despite their overall good health, we have over the years been frequent visitors to the MCH Emergency Department and we have appreciated the excellent care our boys have received. In addition, we have always considered the Make-A-Wish Foundation to be a wonderful cause. To give a terminally ill child the opportunity to fulfill their last wish is priceless,” explained Jordan and Isaac’s mom Kathy.
Birthday present wish lists were on the sporty side with these active brothers. A basketball net for Isaac, and a bike for Jordan! Mom Kathy loved seeing her children celebrate with friends and family and shared: “The ECHOage format made the whole process easy and convenient for us and our guests. I found in the past my kids would get so many gifts that they would not appreciate them. This way they were able to receive one big gift, and they appreciated it more.”
Thanks Jordan and Isaac for being our ECHOage Heroes and for inspiring so many other families to follow in your footsteps! Happy birthday from all of us at ECHOage!
Quebec! It’s Time to ECHOage!
We’re hearing all kinds of ECHOs across Quebec these days! Children are giving to others in record numbers and creating a positive impact on the world on the occasion of their birthdays. We’ve got generous leaders among us and their ECHOs are being heard!
By now you’ve either hosted or been to an ECHOage party and hopefully you can easily agree that this is a major win for the child, the charity, the environment and especially you, the parent! Move over Evite, ECHOage is the answer for the multi-tasking, socially conscious and environmentally friendly among us.
Partners you care about
Supporting organizations you feel connected to makes the ECHOage experience all the sweeter. We’re made that possible by partnering with organizations essential to our community and right in our backyard. The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Jewish General Hospital, the Just for Kids Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, the MAB-Mackay Foundation, the MADA Community Center are all Quebec based charities that are benefiting from the generosity of your children! Believe it that we can change the world one celebration at a time!
The Part I’m Playing
As mom to two young girls, I have seen first hand the joy and pride that my daughters have experienced from giving back and doing important work for those in need. As the eastern regional ambassador, I am thrilled to be able to play a part in fostering kindness and generosity among our youngest generation. I am here to support you whether it’s your first or fifth ECHOage party! I can always be reached at email@example.com.
The Difference Little (And Big) People Can Make
My daughter and her best friend raised over $1200 this past September onthe occasion of their 7th birthdays, of which over $600 went to the Montreal Children’s Hospital! Talk about a gift with major impact! To date we’ve raised over $2.5 million dollars for our over 250 charitable partners across Canada and the US. Just imagine what can be accomplished! Join us Quebecers! It’s time to create your ECHO!
Stina Hamlin, a local NYC mom of a 6yr old girl and 2yr old boy, is heading up the New York office. A career television producer and long-time user of ECHOage, Stina approached co-founders, Debbie Zinman and Alison Smith, to head up a U.S. branch in New York City. The result is an exciting collaboration that brings ECHOage’s joy of giving AND celebrating to America! Stina’s experience in marketing, creative content production, and her status as one of the early adopters of ECHOage in Los Angeles, and now New York City, adds her expertise and enthusiasm to the ECHOage team. “I am ecstatic about being a part of a company and philosophy in which I truly believe. I have used ECHOage for my children’s parties for 6 years and have raised almost $2000 for charities they chose teaching them valuable life lessons while having fun. I am looking forward to expanding the ECHOage mission in the U.S. and NYC!” says Stina Hamlin of ECHOage NY.
Photo Credit: Toki Lee Photography – http://www.Tokileephoto.com
My son hates birthday cake. Vanilla, chocolate or marble, if it’s got flaming candles on top, he’s not having any of it. Don’t get me wrong, he loves cake. And cupcakes. And cookies. But throw on a birthday greeting and some blobs of melted wax and he’s out.
After a few wasted cakes that I’d end up eating alone, I decided he should maybe choose his own cake. Despite protestations that he didn’t want any cake, I managed to convince him that a party’s not a party without the traditional singing Happy Birthday and cutting into some sweet and sugary confection. He wandered around the bakery, carefully examining each cake before finally choosing a gussied up cherry cheesecake, dripping with FD & C Red No. 40.
We sang. He blew out the candles. We passed around the cake. He didn’t eat it.
And then he ‘fessed up: he wanted me to make the cake. So the following year I did. And the year after that. My two other kids have hopped on the bandwagon as well. If it’s not a homemade birthday cake, they’re not interested. Now I do cakes: instant cakes, cookie cakes, ice-cream cakes. Sprinkle cakes, cakes with fun fonts, cupcake-cakes.
Expectations run high. Each cake has to be better, tastier, and grander than the one before. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to take the pressure. I’ve already warned them my repertoire’s nearly maxed out. But they don’t believe me. And on I bake….
Let them eat cake? Not my boys. They’re not interested. Unless it’s a homemade extravaganza the likes of which they’ve never seen before. Next year I’ll be throwing a fistful of candles onto a cheese pizza. Let them eat pie.
How does it work?
Loved by busy families, ECHOage is an online birthday party website with a charitable twist. Instead of your average paperless invite, after customizing their invitation, kids choose a charity. Guests are then invited to make a contribution. Half of the funds raised will go to the charity of the child’s choice, while the other half goes towards super-fabulous birthday presents.
Co-founders Debbie Zinman and Alison Smith wanted to modernize the birthday party experience. They were done with spending more time searching and shopping for birthday gifts than hanging out with and enjoying their kids. They didn’t want to be the Scrooges of birthday parties, but it felt like the birthday party madness was getting out of hand. So they made a commitment to making parties more rewarding for the kids and less work for the parents. By combining the good feelings of giving with the fab feelings of receiving, they knew they were on to something.
Meet Leo: A five-year-old birthday hero
Leo was always an animal lover. Stuffed animals, zoo animals, or farm animals, if it was furry and had four-legs, Leo was ready to take it home. His first word wasn’t Mom or Dad, it was “doggie”. In fact, the only thing he loved more than dogs (and tigers) was his birthday. When he had a chance to put the two things he loved most together, he leapt at the opportunity.
For Leo’s fifth birthday, he and his parents decided to ECHOage his party. Leo was excited to do something different — and make a difference.
How one family made the ECHOage experience their own
For Leo’s parents, throwing their son an ECHOage party was a no brainer. Together, they uploaded a picture of Leo and chose a blue soccer themed invitation. Then they checked out the carefully curated list of local and national charities. And what a list it was! Leo couldn’t believe how many there were to choose from: SickKids to Make-A-Wish, Best Buddies to Children’s Aid, to Indigo Love of Reading Foundation and, of course, animal charities, like WWF, Jane Goodall Institute, and WSPA Canada. Every charity on the list spoke to him in a meaningful way.
The charity part
After careful consideration, Leo chose COPE Service Dogs, an Ontario-based organization dedicated to empowering communities through the use and training of service dogs. Kids struggling to get through high school help train puppies to become service dogs. They visit hospitals, nursing homes and classrooms with the dogs. Once the dogs are fully trained, they’re placed with people with mobility issues and other challenges.
Even at five years old, Leo knew this charity was important: kids working with dogs to help other people really resonated with him. He couldn’t wait to be a part of it.
The gift part
Once the charity was chosen and the invitations emailed, Leo and his parents were able to track who was coming to his party, and how much money they were raising for their charity — and for his super special gift. Other birthday parties had brought with them the usual pile of presents. Some wanted, others, less so. They still had gifts leftover from previous birthdays and holidays. Leo’s mom, Carolyn, knew that all her son really wanted was a drum kit. A real drum kit, not the “kiddie” kind.
By combining all the guests’ contributions she’d be able to buy him the dream gift she’d never have been able to purchase on her own. Instead of a slew of toys that might completely overwhelm her son, he’d be getting the one present he really, truly wanted.
The big day arrives
On the big day, Carolyn had her guest tracker handy complete with phone numbers, special concerns, even allergy alerts. Parents arrived relaxed, knowing the birthday gift was taken care of. And, of course, the playing field was leveled as each guest privately contributed to Leo’s charity and his present. No boxes big or small, nothing to cart back to the car — or to return. Just birthday cake and happy faces.
Happy kids, happy parents
The party was a huge success in every way. As one guest noted, “we just needed to RSVP and show up! Instead of spending hours wandering the aisles in search of the perfect present — at the perfect price point — everything was taken care of. What a relief.”
The kids had a great time, while all the parents loved how simple the entire ECHOage process was. Leo may have been the first one in his gang to ECHOage his party, but judging from the parents’ grateful reactions to such a convenient party, Carolyn knew he definitely wouldn’t be the last.
The celebration continues
When Leo returned home, he found a shiny new drum kit waiting for him. He couldn’t have been happier. Carolyn received a friendly email from ECHOage reminding her to thank her guests and to close her party. With a click of her mouse, she was done. A few days later, a cheque arrived in the mail. When Leo saw it, Carolyn explained that the same amount had been sent to COPE Service Dogs.
Leo’s face lit up. “Mommy”, he said, “I feel like a hero”. And he was. At five years old, Leo had learned what it felt like to make a change. It felt different. Amazing. Special. His party was a blast, but the whole experience was a life changer. When asked about it later, Carolyn exclaimed, “once you go ECHOage, there’s no going back”.
The news spreads
Word on the street spread. Leo told his pals all about his cool party and his awesome drum kit — just in case anyone missed the pounding bass sounds coming from the house! Sure enough, a few weeks later, Leo received an ECHOage invitation of his own, the first of many more to come. The simplicity of planning, the joy of giving and the fun of getting what kids really want sparked something in his friends and classmates. For Leo, his family, and their friends, ECHOage really was a better way to celebrate!