If you were to measure Tanvi Barman's age by the number of birthday parties she's had, you would come up with 16. If you were to measure her kindness, however, by the number of parties she has thrown, that number would be almost twice as big.
"I think it's 30 parties so far," the Fremont teenager said.
Barman is the founder of No Birthday Left Behind, a nonprofit that throws birthday parties for children living in homeless shelters.
U.S. & World
The day's top national and international news.
Barman said the idea grew out of experiences she had volunteering with her mother and sister, serving breakfast at a homeless shelter in their town. Barman at the time was too young to help out in the kitchen so she would play and talk with the children staying in the shelter.
One memory, in particular, stands out.
"My birthday was coming up and I was getting excited about my birthday party," Barman said. "I asked one of them, 'When is your birthday coming up?' and they didn't really respond."
Barman soon learned that her life and that of the children at the shelter were quite different.
"I don't even think they knew what a birthday party was," Barman said. "A birthday party is a whole experience. It's not just a piece of cake. It's not just one present. It's a whole thing."
The kind of party that Barman had grown accustomed to having as a child is what she wanted to give the shelter children.
That is how No Birthday Left Behind is started.
Barman now works with five different shelters hosting monthly parties for the children whose birthdays fall during that month. At a recent party for a 2-year-old at LifeMoves in San Jose included not just pizza and cake but also crafts, an Easter egg hunt, and even a pofessional magic show.
"It's just a heartwarming experience," Barman said. "I love spending time with kids. Seeing a kid smile makes me really, really happy."