Lowcountry native Steffi Green’s framed diploma from the Charleston School of Law hangs in her downtown home office, next to a massive bookshelf brimming with colorful toys and gift-wrapping supplies. Turns out, working on personal injury cases with her well-established dad, Bill Green, wasn’t as fulfilling as she’d hoped.
When she read a newspaper article about how many foster children in Charleston (and the whole state, unfortunately) are put in group homes—where they might not receive a gift on their birthday—she decided to do something to remedy this.
“These kids have all suffered trauma. They have been removed from their families, which is a kid's worst nightmare. We want them to know that the community cares about them, and they haven’t been forgotten. Foster care in SC is in a state of crisis because there just aren't enough foster parents. I want to raise awareness so that others can see the need, think and talk about it, and maybe feel a call to do something about it."
Steffi used her legal training to set up her own nonprofit, Birthdays For All. Now she works with the Charleston County Department of Social Services to find out how many foster children in the county are having birthdays and what they might need or want. Her techie husband, Ben Wong, jumped on board wholeheartedly, creating their snazzy website, producing a video, and lending his expertise with photography and digital marketing.
The couple met during college at The American International University in London, and Steffi easily convinced Ben to move to Charleston in 2007, saying it was just like London but with better weather. After having daughter Olivia, Steffi and Ben adopted son Grayson in Korea. Grayson had been in a loving foster home and thrived from having that positive early experience. Olivia and Grayson, who are so loved and well cared for, see their parents extending that love to the community, which is perhaps the greatest gift they could ever get.
Words by Dee Dee Arthur
Photo by Melissa Toms