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!!
Henry

Advertisements

Senior Project Final: Informe Adultos Mayores

Hey everyone! I hope you’re enjoying some nice, Spring weather, wherever you are! This week, it’s time to check in with our Senior students and find out about one of their senior projects! Over the weekend, I met with members of the team “Adultos Mayores,” Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.53.17 AMincluding:Joselyn C., Jordy L., Julio P. and Ariana S. Let’s find out what they did during their five week project!

The team members began by telling me that the goal of their project was to visit the elderly home, Damien House, over the course of five Fridays, to bring residents happiness and to show that they are valued. Before attending the home, the team members fundraised by selling jello! The students raised $9, to cover the cost of snacks that they would provide to the residents.

During their first visit on January 20th, they had breakfast with some of the residents. They helped some of them drink their oatmeal drink, as it wScreen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.54.40 AMas challenging for them. After breakfast, they went to the patio, explained their project to the residents and invited them to participate. The residents were very excited and decided to start off with an icebreaker, to get to know each other. Finally, when it was time to go, the students gave the residents bananas as a snack. Then, the residents told the students that they were very excited about their visit!

January 27th was the students next visit. As the students arrived, the residents were waiting on the patio with very excited expressions. The students handed out badgesScreen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.55.17 AM to the residents, they played another icebreaker and then they played dominoes. Since some of the students didn’t know how to play, the residents taught them. Finally, they caught up for the week and then gave the residents an oatmeal beverage as their snack.

The students visited the residents for a third time on February 3rd. They said, “this day, we were surprised with the excitement of the adults, which was greater with each visit!” For the visit, they passed out badges played an icebreaker named “cow tail” and then discussed the residents’ lives from when they were young. The residents gave the students advice and in return, the students gave them sandwiches as a snack!Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.56.29 AM

Their fourth visit to the home was very rainy and the residents were worried that the students weren’t going to show. So, when they arrived, the residents were still in the dining room eating their breakfast. After breakfast, they played another icebreaker, called “the spider web.” Then, the residents taught the students how to weave hammocks and told them that they make handicrafts and sell them to people who visit the home. Finally, the students gave orange juice as a snack and said goodbye.

February 17th was the final visit for the students. They said, “this day we felt a bit sad to think that it would be our last visit with our new friends. We wanted the end of the project to be unique, so we brought picture frames with pictures that we had taken with them.” The students also included a lot of balloons to decorate the home and make the residents happy. The morning was filled with emotions from both the students and the residents. The residents expressed their gratitude toward the students for their visits and let them know that they would miss them every Friday. For their final visit, the students gave the residents an oatmeal drink with bread as their snack.Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 11.57.09 AM

Looking back at their time with the residents, the students said, “We were able to understand the value of solidarity and love because each time we arrived at the Father Damien House, we were filled with happiness, feeling that our presence was important for them. We understand that each person that we encountered in the home needs us, so that they do not feel alone. The environment in the home makes them feel a deep sense of solitude.”

I am so proud of these students for their accomplishment. Not only did they complete their Senior project, but they formed new bonds that will last a lifetime. Great job Starfish Scholars!

2016: A Year in Review

Wow, another year gone past, and at Starfish it has been a busy and exciting one! We wanted to take a quick moment to go through our year in review:

This year we currently have about 125 students participating several times per week each! “The quantity of students enrolled in Starfish is a testament to our staff and programs that more people always want to enroll and are excited about education!” says co-founder Jenn.

From March Madness to the Baltimore Benefit Dinner our year was off to a great start! Our Sponsor a Scholar program really took off, and Starfish welcomed new friends and volunteers.

Summer was a busy time for us. June started with an awesome soccer tournament which helped raise funds for the organization. In June we also launched a 5th tutoring group out of our head quarters in Flor de Bastión.

In August we had our “Friends of Starfish” trip where volunteers went to Ecuador to  capture photos and stories, participate in tutoring sessions, and re-launch our Snapchat account. They also joined our scholars for a field trip to the Botanical Gardens. In August we also had our talent show – showcasing our talents and leadership skills – “that night was magical because we were together as a family and we all gave our whole hearts, because Starfish is our little home.” said one participant.

Throughout the summer we had fantastic volunteers in Ecuador who helped with workshops, taught English, helped coordinate soccer an taught sport classes, creating a mural, and even put together Professional Development Workshops for staff.

During the summer, our 11th and 12th grade students also started getting into teams to start working on their Senior Service Projects. The four scholars in Guasmo have teamed up to work with a local hospital and/or shelter to volunteer their time and energy and also the bring needed items like food and clothing. They also plan to organize activities to bring them joy. The other three projects are being carried out in Flor de Bastión. The first, focusing on communication and integration hopes to bring people of the community together to improve relations. The second group, who are still ironing out the specifics, hope to work with seniors to brighten their day. The third group is planning literacy classes for adults in the neighborhood who never learned to read or write.

In the Fall Scholars in Ecuador hosted their annual “Olympiadas” where they participated in various athletic activities. They also restarted their recycling initiative including an awareness campaign for the local community. In the US, we had a fundraiser at a Baltimore Orioles game – great fun!

The US and Ecuador came together for our first annual #StarfishSearch Scavenger Hunt – as teams of up to 6 individuals competed for 12 hours to capture fun photos and videos, complete random acts of kindness, and spread the word about Starfish.

And, perhaps, most important, we celebrated our 5th BIRTHDAY this year on November 9th, which was a great time for us to reflect on how thankful we are for “The help of all of our long-term volunteers from the U.S. and worldwide who have brought unique projects and skills to Starfish – their knowledge and skills they teach our students and staff really make a lasting difference!” This year we also saw our Social Media Interns program grow which was really amazing, and we super appreciate how they’ve helped our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages grow.

As we look back, we know it is also important to look ahead, and look forward to continuing to grow and serve in the coming years.So what are we looking forward to in the new year?

Here are our 7 New Year’s Resolutions for 2017:

  1. Finalize our registration as an Ecuadorian non-profit
  2.  Purchase land and begins plans to build new classrooms
  3. Continue to increase the quality of education we offer at Starfish so students can receive a quality education and skills necessary to be successful professionals despite the broken school system they are forced to attend
  4. Continue to improve other services offered at Starfish to help remove other barriers to education and create well-rounded young people ready to make a difference in their communities and the world
  5. Expand our partnerships in Ecuador in order to better serve our students and their families
  6. Get our college prep program up & running so our students have the tools they need to gain entrance and to be successful in college.
  7. Seeing the amount of people who learn about Starfish continue to increase!

92744-537112_10151522938759061_280721677_n

#StarfishSearch Recap

Starfish held its first ever #StarfishSearch scavenger hunt in early October, and boy was it fun! Teams of up to six people joined together to spread awareness, share why they loved Starfish, and take lots of pictures and videos around their perspective cities.

From Maryland to California, and New York to Ecuador, teams showed off their creativity as they wrote theme songs for Starfish, made clothing out of found items, and retold the Starfish story. A great time was had by all.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the event:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you can image, it was incredibly hard to pick a winner. However, after deliberation, prizes were awarded in multiple categories.

Overall category winners were:

1st Place: El Clan (CONGRATULATIONS!)
2nd Place: ChocoDynamite
3rd Place: All My Single Starfish
Most Items Completed: Survivors
Most Creative: All My Single Starfish

We also recognized those teams who got the most “likes” from their social media accounts – so much love was shared for Starfish!

Most Instagram Likes: BaltiMostAllStars Reunited
Most Facebook Likes Overall: ChocoDynamite
Most Facebook Likes on a Single Picture: Survivors
Most Twitter Likes: El Clan

Congratulations to our 2016 #StarfishSearch winners!

We know everyone had a great time – Just had to take one look at everyone’s smiling faces, and fun excursions (one team found a pirate ship!) to know this day was a great success. Thank you to everyone who participated in and  brought awareness of Starfish to their communities (and police officers, and hospital personnel, and firefighters, and athletes)!

We can’t wait to do this again next year!
Henry

Luck O’ the Ecuadorians

Greetings, Starfish supporters! This week, we’d like to share one of our current campaigns: Luck O’ the Ecuadorians.

This St. Patrick’s Day, we invite you to raise a glass to our students in Ecuador and contribute just $7 to their educations. Because it costs $1 per day to support a Starfish scholar, your $7 would pay for an entire week! $30 would cover them for a month–and so on.
We know that St. Patrick’s Day is a time for fun and lively festivities. But we’d also like to offer it as a time to give back. We hope you will consider gifting the cost of one St. Patrick’s Day drink (or any other item) to our students. It’ll brighten their days as much as any leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
For more information, please visit our event page or website.

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!

Thank you for a successful #GivingTuesday 2014!

We owe a huge THANK YOU to all of you for your support this past #GivingTuesday!

For those who are wondering, Giving Tuesday is the non-profit world’s answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (this year December 2nd) – charities, families, business, community centers, and students across the world came together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give!

According to the United Nations Foundation (one of the co-founders of the Giving Tuesday movement) more than 26,000 partners participated this year with civic initiatives, fundraising campaigns and volunteer work.

Starfish has participated for the past 3 years, since the start of this initiative.  This year we participated by hosting happy hours and dinner events across the U.S.!  16 Starfish volunteers & supporters in MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD and NE combined to host a total of 10 events.  Friend of Starfish organized happy hours, dinner events and more while promoting Starfish to their friends, co-workers, neighborhoods and community in hopes of spreading awareness and raising funds for Starfish – and they sure were successful!

We are excited to announce that so far a total of $4,072.15 has been raised from these events and other supporters on Giving Tuesday.  In the coming weeks we will have a final tally to share with you.

If you still want to join in on the fun, you have one last chance – tomorrow – Friday, December 12 from 7-10pm at the Gin Mill on 81st & Amsterdam in Manhattan!

Thank you!!!

 

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!