This Year’s An Evening for the Stars was a Night to Celebrate

We celebrated our 5th annual benefit dinner and silent auction on April 21! So much fun was had by all – there was great music, great food, and tons of great individuals from all around the world!

“My favourite part of this year’s dinner was connecting with other like-minded people who believe in the Starfish mission. It was a night filled with inspiring conversations and wonderful demonstrations of support,” said Erica, a long time volunteer who traveled from Canada to attend this year’s event. “I traveled to the dinner from Canada because I’ve been a long time supporter of Starfish from a distance, and I wanted to meet everyone else who has also been donating their time, energy, efforts and resources to help further the cause of high-quality education in Ecuador. I am so happy to have met all these wonderful supporters at the dinner, and I can’t wait to go again,” she added.



If you haven’t already heard, the silent auction during the benefit dinner went incredibly well – Over 170 silent auction items were sold in person and online. This is 13% more than last year! WOW!

Here are some other key highlights from this year’s dinner:

  • Over $110,000 was raised from sponsorship, program ads, ticket sales, and silent auction proceeds. This is a 35% increase from last year!
  • We had 218 dinner attendees. It’s an all-time record, and well over last year’s tally of 150!

And that’s all thanks to you, our awesome supporters, volunteers, and friends!

When asked to describe this year’s event in just one word, participants said:

  • Inspiring!
  • Caring!
  • Connecting!
  • Heart-warming!
  • Uplifting!
  • Fun!
  • Motivating!
  • Impressive!

They also said they learned a lot from the event – hearing stories of various students who gained life-changing opportunities and access to education, as well as hearing stories from volunteers and staff who have had their lives changed for the better because of Starfish.

Did you attend this year’s benefit dinner and want to give feedback? Please fill out this survey so that we can improve next year’s benefit dinner and silent auction.


Benefit Dinner: Celebrating 5 Years of Starfish!

The Starfish Benefit Dinner was a phenomenal success! Everyone here at Starfish thanks everyone who was involved – whether you attended the dinner, bid on an auction item, sponsored a scholar, donated an auction item, or helped us out behind the scenes, we most definitely couldn’t have done this without all our amazing supporters. We hope everyone had as much fun celebrating the fifth birthday of The Starfish Foundation as we did.

benefit dinner 2

The Benefit Dinner took place at St. Joseph’s Church in Cockeysville, Maryland on Saturday April 29th. All our “star” guests enjoyed live music, a delicious Ecuadorian dinner, and a chance to celebrate five years of Starfish with other friends, volunteers, supporters, and staff. When not dancing or bidding on the silent auction items, guests also got to hear from a few of our current Starfish Scholars about their dreams for the future and from experienced volunteers who shared their Starfish experience.

benefit dinnerBesides being loads of fun, Saturday evening was a huge success!
• Over $10,500 was raised on Saturday evening
• $67,500 total was raised from the dinner and silent auction.
• We had 146 attendees, plus the presence of one “star fish,” (that’s me!)
• Almost 150 auction items were sold!

If you missed the festivities, you can watch one of our scholar videos here

Thank you again!
See you next year!!

Our Annual Benefit Dinner: A Silent Auction Preview

Hello Starfish supporters! Today, I’m writing to tell you about our Evening for the Stars benefit dinner on Saturday, April 18. We’re holding the event at St. Pius X Church in Baltimore at 7pm and we sincerely hope you will join us! The dinner will feature any number of delights including music, a raffle, door prizes, and delicious Ecuadorian food and wine. We will also have a silent auction which will feature a number of unique items including the following:

Peace birds!

Your much needed Starfish gear!

This Harold Feinstein umbrella and other donated items!

Paintings and other art from Ecuador!

This gorgeous alpaca shawl.

Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for students and can be purchased here. Proceeds directly benefit our operations in Ecuador–including providing funding for our scholars!

An Evening for the Stars…CT style!

Beth & Jenn with former Starfish volunteer and photographer for the night, Maria!
A few weeks ago, we held another successful, “Evening for the Stars,” this time in Windsor Locks, CT.  For the third time now, friends of Starfish gathered together for a night of good food, great company and a chance to learn a little bit more about our programs.  
Delicious buffet dinner
The night started off with some social time to browse the silent auction items and participate in a 50-50 raffle.  This year’s auction not only featured several items from Ecuador, but also many local products.  In total there were over 35 items up for auction!
Auction Items from Ecuador!
Once all of our guests had arrived, we sat down for a delicious meal of rice, beans, enchiladas, chicken & more.  We shared with our guests about the need for Starfish and shared some of videos of our students. 
Guests Nadia, Joe, Matt, Rachel, Liz, Alyssa, Jenn & Jeff
As dinner was winding down, we had one last call for the silent auction before our keynote speaker, Don Awalt, gave a heartwarming and thought-provoking reflection on his recent trip to visit Starfish in Guayaquil.
Don during his reflection

All in all, it was a great night to share with friends, and a very successful fundraiser.  Between ticket sales, auction, raffle and general donations including those received from friends who could not attend, we raised 10% of our total budget for the entire year in just one night!

Guests Gabi, Julie, Shane, Nicole & Marcus

See our newsletter for official numbers, and if you don’t already receive it, don’t forget to sign up!

This night would not have been possible without the dedicated help and organization of many volunteers like those pictured below.  Thank you, gracias, from the bottom of our hearts!



From Baltimore to Ecuador!

From Baltimore to Ecuador!

On March 7, The Starfish Foundation hosted its first Baltimore “An Evening For the Stars” that welcomed over 100 guests where they celebrated the foundation’s accomplishments and heard its future dreams. Many guests traveled from corners of the United States to show their support for the Starfish Scholars in Ecuador, deserving recipients of educational scholarships through The Starfish Foundation.

Mike, Kathy, Beth, Don & Dave, part of the organizing crew for this event!
The check-in table!
“An Evening For the Stars” was an night of festive food, sights and sounds with an Ecuadorian flare! The chef served a menu of Ecuadorian favorites including tortilla shells filled with rice, beans and chicken, served with sweet plantains. Brightly decorated tables of yellow and aqua filled the room, topped with creative school-themed centerpieces, pen-pal letters from Starfish Scholars and their photos. The silent auction table was loaded with colorful treasures by Ecuadorian artists and unique handmade frames filled with pictures of Starfish Scholars.

Silent Auction table!

Our wonderful music for the night!
Rev. John Swope, SJ, the evening’s Keynote speaker, explained the importance of helping others in our world, just as we care for those in the United States. Beth Awalt, co-founder of The Starfish Foundation gave an enthusiastic presentation and showed videos of co-founder Jenn Zocco working in Ecuador alongside smiling Starfish Scholars! Beautiful live music filled the hall as new friends met and old friends laughed together all evening long. We give thanks to everyone who attended and to the volunteers who pulled this sensational event together.

Fr. Swope, SJ during his inspiring speech!
Kathy, Danny & Dr. Klingler – this year’s award winners!

During “An Evening For the Stars” The Starfish Foundation’s spirit traveled across continents from Baltimore to Ecuador.

Reflection written by Kathy Awalt, Administrative Assistant for Starfish and one of our dedicated organizers of this wonderful event!

Noticias from Guayaquil

  • The school year is winding down here in Guayaquil.  About half of our students finished final exams last week, and the other half will finish this week…just in time for some of rainy season’s wettest days yet.  Luckily, our classrooms are holding up just fine due to the hard work we put in last month at the “minga.”
    David & Cristhian at last month’s minga
  • Last week two volunteers from the Netherlands arrived at Starfish.  They’ve been staying with Starfish employee’s Marcos’ family and have had a great time getting to know the kids, helping them study for exams, and even teaching them a little bit of Dutch! Stay tuned for an update from Twan & Rianne!
    Rianne with Starfish tutoring student, Genesis.

Rianne, Yuliana, Cynthia, Lissette and Twan
  • This past weekend was an exciting weekend in Guayaquil – Saturday, February 22nd, the two Guayaquil soccer teams played against each other in the “Clásico”.  Emelec beat Barcelona 2-1. Sunday was election day.  Elections took place for mayor and other district/provincial positions.  Voting is mandatory for all Ecuadorian citizens 18 & older.
    Left: Jaime Nebot re-elected as mayor of Guayaquil.
    Right: Mauricio Rodas elected as mayor or Quito
  • In March we will run a mini vacation camp for our Starfish students, as well as select new Starfish Scholars for the 2014-2015 school year.  This year we hope to increase the number of scholars to 40!
    Eddy, Arelisa, Cristhian, Milena & Pamela at October’s vacation camp!
  • In other news, our 2nd annual benefit dinner is planned for Friday, March 7th in Baltimore, MD.  With over 50 tickets purchased, a guest speaker, silent auction, Ecuadorian-themed meal and many more surprises, it’s shaping up to be the event of the year!  Reserve your tickets today and tweet at us from the event with hashtag #forthestars!