Guest post by Paige Chenault
I was told from a young age that I could be anyone and do anything I wanted to in life, and at the ripe age of 21, I was determined to prove to the world that my parents were right!
My first job was in non-profit and I loved every minute of it. I was making connections with people and impacting their purpose. I was making a difference and it felt so good. Bringing happiness and taking care of others was something I was becoming passionate about. Working to improve the lives of many made me excited! But I was running on all cylinders for a long time and got to a point where I just couldn’t keep up, so I decided to pursue the world of for-profit.
During this transition, I met my husband, Colin. After our wedding, I was introduced to a gal planning her wedding and she asked me for help. I had only planned one other wedding in my life, so although I wasn’t qualified to give advice on the subject, I jumped at the chance to help someone with such an important milestone. I found myself really starting to come alive! I was involved in one of the most important moments in someone’s life by creating a meaningful and memorable celebration for them. It was electrifying! When the first wedding was done, I had another one booked to look forward to. The friends that hired me played such an important role in my journey. They believed in me without question. WOW! Imagine, At 24, I was my own boss doing something I loved for great people! I love giving something my all, and feeling the reward when a project is complete. I love watching people smile, their excitement and appreciation light up a room when their dreams are realized. For some, it might seem like I was “just” planning weddings. For me, it became my passion. I feel like so much our our journey is based on the opportunities we allow ourselves to be open to.
I worked hard for my clients, I said yes often and tried to please everyone (you know where I’m headed, right?). After 8 years, work became frustrating. I learned that I cluttered my world with everything else and I lost sight of what was most important: my family and my passions.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I read about kid’s birthdays and dreamed of what could be for Lizzie. The thought of celebrating her in a meaningful way ignited a fire in my soul. I want(ed) her to know and feel like she can do anything in life-and celebrating birthdays are such an exclamation point that we matter!
In the moments following this daydream, reality hit me: So many kids in America would never feel celebrated the way I could celebrate Lizzie. My wheels started churning, my heart started pumping, my fire kept burning…I realized in that moment my life’s purpose… I was going to throw birthday parties for homeless children all across the country! Perhaps it wasn’t the best timing to start a new non-profit, but knowing this was what I was meant to do comforted me as I carefully fulfilled obligations and closed my business.
As I closed one chapter and prepared for a new one, I started really paying attention. I started doing more of what I loved and less of what people wanted me to do. I started to plan the launch of The Birthday Party Project. I worked diligently and set big goals for us as we defined our vision. I surrounded myself with intelligent, compassionate cheerleaders that could make this a reality. I decluttered my world enough to listen and refine. My event planning skills helped lay a strong foundation for The Birthday Party Project, but it takes a village to make this the organization excellent. In January, we are celebrating our 3rd birthday! We have gone from a home-spun operation to a reputable non-profit that takes JOY and Birthdays seriously! As the founder and CEO, I dream big for this organization. I want my team, our birthday enthusiasts, and the kids we celebrate to know how important they are! Making birthday wishes come true is my mission, my purpose, and my passion. My last 10 years are just as important as my next 10, and I’m so grateful to know my story isn’t finished!