Valley mom Julie Read co-founded the local non-profit, Parties for Purpose, alongside Jamila Watson. The two have created a unique organization that brings fun and happy moments into the lives of deserving children by hosting birthday parties in honor of those who would not be able to experience their birthday the same way without help.
Jamila owns her own event planning business, Parties on Purpose and Julie, at the time, owned her own business, Juju’s Tutus. They met at an event that brought their businesses together and they have known each other for about six years. Four years ago, they started Parties for Purpose. It took about six months to come to fruition.
The pair began working with other local non-profits such as Hope Kids, Save the Family and Arizona Helping Hands to qualify the guests of honor at the parties they host. The children that are nominated for the birthday parties range in age between one and 18 years old. They are usually foster kids or those who live in domestic violence or homeless shelters.
“We provide professional parties partnered with other valley event professionals,” Julie explained. “We refer to it as a once in a lifetime memorable event for these kids. Clients we serve are going through a darker time in their lives. When they grow up, we want them to look back on this party as one of the bright spots that holds good memories.
“The parties start with a grand entrance for the party reveal. There is an overwhelming sense of excitement and joy at that moment when the children realize that this party is just for them.”
Parties for Purpose always provides birthday cakes and cupcakes, themed activities, birthday presents for the birthday kids, goodie bags for the guests and memorable keepsakes, including photos for children to remember the event. In the past, they have also had therapy ponies to interact with the kids, face painters, magicians, circus performers and will sometimes also provide dinner if they have those special partners. Each party lasts about two hours.
Anyone, including kids, can volunteer to help either at the party or with prep work, which includes shopping for gifts, wrapping, packaging and loading vehicles. Other businesses are always welcome to donate services, as well.
Julie is married with four kids and is currently involved working in community advocacy. She has helped advocate concerns to the state legislature regarding policy changes at the Maricopa Reentry Center, removing the homeless sex offender population and returning it to a secured facility to keep our community safe.
Julie also advocated to get Phoenix Fire Engine 55 running in the Norterra area and is currently campaigning to be on the upcoming ballot for the Deer Valley School Board.
“I fell in love with advocacy work,” Julie shared of herself. “I like to fix problems, which seems to be a common thread. When a problem arises in the community, I’m often asked to help. I began paying closer attention to things that were going on in our own school district and I didn’t like what I was seeing, so I began advocating on educational issues. I want to make sure our kids grow up in stronger and safer communities and that starts in our neighborhood schools.”
Julie’s passion for children is quite rare and her work is appreciated by so many. Parties for Purpose has so far created lasting memories for over 300 kids!
“I love seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids when they realize the party is just for them,” Julie shared. “And that they get to keep their toys!”
By: Rebecca Kaye
Rebecca Zaner has written many stories throughout the valley and enjoys having the ability to share community news, journeys and achievements. Holding a Bachelor of Music, Rebecca’s favorite place to be is the stage. Having been a singer all her life, Rebecca is now in pursuit of a professional performing career, singing opera and musical theatre (rebeccazaner.com). Also an avid photographer, Rebecca owns a photography business, Rebecca Kaye Photography (rebeccakayephoto.wix.com/rebeccakaye). She enjoys the natural beauty of Arizona and can be found spending her free time exploring and traveling with her family.