Burnaby teen aims to bring joy to seniors with birthday serenades

·2 min read
James Thom, 14, is co-ordinating monthly Happy Birthday singing sessions for seniors and is looking to expand his project outside his hometown of Burnaby, B.C. (CBC News - image credit)
James Thom, 14, is co-ordinating monthly Happy Birthday singing sessions for seniors and is looking to expand his project outside his hometown of Burnaby, B.C. (CBC News - image credit)

"To show them that we care."

That was 14-year-old James Thom's motivation to launch Your Birthday Singers, he says. The project brings together volunteers once a month on Zoom to sing Happy Birthday to seniors living in B.C. care homes.

Thom, speaking to Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition, said the idea to brighten seniors' birthdays came to him last fall while the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing.

He said he reached out at that time to staff at Burnaby long-term care facilities to co-ordinate monthly celebrations for residents, but the coronavirus had everyone occupied and many of his inquiries went unanswered.

Determined to bring some joy somehow, he turned to local government for support.

"I actually went up to the Burnaby City Hall and I asked for our mayor's help," said Thom.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley was ready to rock and told Thom he'd join him singing.

"It really motivated me to move forward, and I continued trying to attract attention to my project," said Thom.

One year later, the project is in full swing with local pastors, members of Scouts Canada, Thom's friends and family and numerous volunteers lending their voices to Thom's cause.

Thom is hoping now to expand the project into other cities and said he is collaborating with a group working on a similar project in Baltimore.

"I just want to be able to supply some kind of platform where we can connect to seniors," he said.

Thom and his team perform on the last Thursday of every month between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. and anyone who wishes to have a senior sung to can visit YourBirthdaySingers.com to sign up.

The website indicates performances are on Wednesday, but Thom has confirmed with CBC the singing sessions are Thursday.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting