Cathy Kendrick wasn't going to let children have all the fun. Last November, she was looking for a meaningful way to celebrate a milestone -- her 50th birthday.
She came up with "$50 for 50th," borrowing an idea from children who ask their friends to donate to a charity in lieu of bringing gifts.
So she and husband Tim invited a bunch of friends, cleaned up the house, hired a caterer and bartender, and asked their guests to donate $50 that would go to building a small, cinderblock house in Reynosa, Mexico.
Through their church, Charlotte's Covenant Presbyterian, the Kendricks and their sons have gone to Reynosa several times on mission work.
"It is one of our passions," Cathy Kendrick said this week. "We thought it would be a good theme, rather than have a big drunk. It just felt better -- it doesn't feel like we're living in a time now to be ostentatious just to be showy. That would have seemed so wasteful just because I was turning 50."
About 100 guests showed up for the party. They all ate good food, drank and danced the night away. And in the end, Cathy raised about $3,800 toward a house that cost $5,500 to build.
During the party, the Kendricks ran a slide show of photos of their work in Reynosa on three TVs. "It was nice to have that going as a reminder of what our purpose was," she said.
Their guests asked questions about Reynosa. Some wondered why they went to Mexico to play out their passion, rather than working with domestic programs such as Habitat for Humanity.
"You get more bang for your buck in Mexico," Cathy said. "And frankly, no matter where you on the immigration issue, if you have a problem with Mexicans coming across the border, then let's help them make their lives better down there."
In February, she saw the money at work -- it was funneled through Covenant Presbyterian -- when she went on another mission trip to Reynosa to build a house (see the above photo; Cathy's the one in the back wearing a yellow hat).
Since her party, she's heard from friends who want to have similar parties to raise money for their favorite charities. She's urging others to do the same.
"It is definitely a challenge to do something meaningful for milestone birthdays," Kendrick said. "Raising money to help a family certainly made mine a meaningful day to remember.
"I think people should think hard about being more intentional about what they're doing socially."