Leslie Greenberg, right, creator of Other’s Day, with Howie the Great, left, a magician, who will entertain the kids.
Leslie Greenberg, right, creator of Other’s Day, with Howie the Great, left, a magician, who will entertain the kids.

When Leslie Greenberg’s birthday and Mother’s Day fell on the same day seven years ago, she told her family she was going to Canada.

Greenberg, of Dunwoody, had lost her grown son, Steven, in a car accident in 2002. The grief of not having him with her on those two special days in 2009 was enough to want to make her leave the country.

“I said I wanted to go Canada because Canada doesn’t celebrate Mother’s Day on the same day” as in the U.S., she said.

After some thought, however, she decided to stay home and create a day for children who have endured the loss of a parent or when a parent is not home for the holiday, a day she dubbed “Other’s Day.”
“I thought of the ‘others’ who step up to take care of these children … and instead of making it a sad occasion I decided I could make something positive and happy,” Greenberg said.

This year marks the seventh anniversary of Other’s Day. The celebration will be held Sunday, May 1, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Concourse Athletic Club in Sandy Springs. An RSVP is required because space is limited. Email OthersDayRSVP@gmail.com or call Greenberg at 404-520-0190.

The event is open to children ages 6-15 and will include food, face painting, games and an appearance by Howie the Great, a magician. Those invited include children who had a mother or father who passed away, whose parent is serving in the military and not at home, or is in foster care because their mother or father is unable to care for them, Greenberg said.

Also invited are widows and widowers; military families; divorced parents; foster parents; and also grandparents, and aunts and uncles who have custody of the children.

“My goal is to provide a comfortable and fun place for the kids, and help them cope with the absence of their parent,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg, a former teacher at the Galloway School, also lost her father when she was young, so she knows what it’s like to grow up without a parent.

“When I was 9, my dad died, and in my day there weren’t any single parent families. I felt as if I was a square peg in a round hole,” she said.

By bringing children together to celebrate, Greenberg says she wants them to find joy and understanding with those who are going through the same issues in life.

Kaylah shows off some of her creative skills.
Kaylah shows off some of her creative skills.

“Children meet others who have gone through similar experiences … and adults also find comfort talking with others, like foster parents, widows, grandparents,” she said.

“Now for me, I get back so much more, and I look forward to this all year long.”

Children who came as youngsters continue to come back year after year, Greenberg said. Many are now old enough to be volunteers, greeting a new generation of children to a fun day that is all about them.
Kristin Yin, 18, a freshman at Georgia State University majoring in nursing, attended the very first Other’s Day when she was 11. Her father took her to the event after learning about it from Greenberg.

“My mom passed away when I was 7 from breast cancer, and Ms. Leslie would come to my father’s restaurant, Chopsticks, and she told him about Other’s Day,” Yin said.

Now that she’s in college, Yin volunteers, returning to set up the activities and ensure children attending are busy having a fun time, whether watching the magician or getting their faces painted.

Face painting is part of the fun.
Face painting is part of the fun.

“I go back every year to help because it is important to me. I understand what the kids are going through,” she said.

Yin said the event has definitely grown since she began attending when she was 11 – last year nearly 40 people were on hand.

“This is a day for everyone to come and have fun,” she said. “It brings joy to the kids and they can make friends, too. Parents can also hear and share stories.”

Talking one-on-one with the children is also important, Yin said.

“I understand that day can bring sadness, but the empty part of that day is filled up by Other’s Day for me,” she said.

Sponsors for the event are:

Burger King
Concourse Athletic Club
Dunwoody Crier
Dunwoody Police
Face painters: Bridget & Izzy
Hampton Inn-Perimeter Center
“Howie the Great” Magician
Office Depot–Office Max
Sandy Springs Fire & Rescue
Trader Joe’s
Willy’s Mexicana Grill

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.