Thursday, April 25, 2013

Back-to-School Adventures, Part 2

Just one week until the 2013-2014 school year starts here in Guayaquil.  What does that mean for our scholars?  "Matricula" started last week and continues into this week.  With only a week or two until classes start, this is first time you can officially sign up for school (even for the public schools our scholars attend).

If you're staying in the same school you're guaranteed a spot - but for those who have moved and must switch schools, or are just entering high school this is a very stressful time of year.  Once you have successfully matriculated in a school (if there are even any spots left!) just then you find out your schedule (morning or afternoon) and you can begin to buy your uniform and everything else you need for the school year.  Talk about last minute!

Pamela in her gym uniform with her professor!

Needless to say the uniform stores will be pretty busy in the coming days, as will our scholars as they prepare for classes after an extended break due to the rain.  Thanks to "Leon 2" and "Confecciones y Bordados Pincay" for making the uniform process easier for our students by providing times especially for Starfish and allowing us to purchase in bulk.  ¡Gracias!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

An Evening for the Stars!

Two weeks ago, a dream became a reality. Dr. Klingler's Social Entrepreneuship class had come up with the idea of "An Evening for the Stars" last spring -- a benefit dinner, hosted at Villanova, for our Starfish Scholars. Lo and behold, one year later, it was a major success!

The event was incredible. People came from far and wide -- some even traveling from Connecticut and New Jersey! In total, there were about 40 guests in attendance, plus the wonderful Business Without Borders (BWB) team, who staffed the event.

Highlights of the night included:

A beautiful table of raffle prizes, including a purse donated by Profugo, and incredible silent auction items, like picture frames (handmade by Kaitlyn Dormer, a BWB member and co-organizer of An Evening for the Stars), Ecuadorian crafts and photos of our Scholars.

The a cappella performance by Minor Problem -- and the "outstanding" cheer from some HOBY volunteers!
Martin Garcia's speech -- Martin was Starfish's first volunteer intern in Ecuador, and his words eloquently described how much of an impact the Starfish Scholars have on his life.

The extraordinary array of food, including beans and rice and fried plantains -- so Ecuadorian!

So many of our supporters coming together -- Jenn's and Beth's family, Dr. Klingler and Dr. Arvanites from VSB, past and present BWB members (including BWB co-founder and Starfish Accountant Dave Grady and current BWB president Danny Newell), HOBY friends, Villanova alum and more.

In total, we raised:
  • $1,641.50 from ticket sales
  • $1,190 from the silent auction
  • $270 from the raffle
  • $3,320 from other donations
Overall, that's $6,421.50! This doesn't include a few expenses that we are still reconciling, but overall, the event was a huge success in both 'fund-raising' and 'friend-raising.'

We owe a huge thank you to quite a few people.

Firstly, gracias to Kaitlyn Dormer and Erin Digan, who organized the entire event. From soliciting donations at the Villanova Print Center to negiotiating with the great staff at Dining Services, they worked their charm around VU to have the greatest impact possible for the Scholars. Kaitlyn's graphic design skills are impressive, and their ideas to make recycled craft centerpieces was truly a hit. We cannot thank you both enough!

Additionally, we'd like to thank Dr. Jim Klingler (pictured here, with wife) and Dr. Deb Arvanites (not pictured) and for their generous advice, support and enthusiasm for Starfish.

To Business Without Borders, we are so grateful for your constant energy for Starfish projects.

VU Dining Services did a fantastic job at catering the event, Minor Problem provided excellent entertainment, the DJ provided great music, and VU Print Center made the materials possible.

Our most heartfelt gratitude to Martin Garcia, for the ripple effect he's created at Villanova for Starfish. We're impressed by you, Martin, and we are so happy to have you as a part of the Starfish family.

Last, but certainly not least, we thank our families for all the support and assistance with this project. It was great to have you be a part of this event, and we couldn't do Starfish without your support!

Gracias a todos, por todo.
Con carino,
Beth and Jenn

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kids Supporting Kids!

This week we announce an exciting new initiative called "Kids Supporting Kids" created by Tamoja and Starfish friend & supporter, Monica!  Monica was born in Ecuador and on her recent trip to Ecuador she decided to put her talent and passion to work for Starfish.  In less than a week she made contacts and coordinated with COMIL, a school in Riobamba (in the mountains here in Ecuador), to donate school supplies to our students as the school year is ending in the mountains and just beginning here on the coast.

Students at COMIL, "TAMOJA creating, "Kids Supporting Kids", sponsored by COMIL - Colegio Militar Combatientes de Tapi N.6 with The Starfish Foundation"

I sent Monica a short list of supplies we could use during tutoring and was absolutely amazed and overwhelmed by the response she got from the students.  She was able to send 6 giant boxes from Riobamba to Guayaquil filled with school supplies for our students to use both at school and during our tutoring program.
The boxes on their way to Guayaquil! 

These 6 boxes included not only notebooks, pens, pencils, rulers and other useful school supplies - but one entire box of books - both academic and novels - to begin a small library in each neighborhood.  We are so excited for the opportunities this will give our students to go above & beyond in their studies.
Some of the books & other generous donations we received from COMIL!

In her blog, Kids Supporting Kids, Monica writes, 

"But education is not only memorizing things by heart, it is not only a teacher giving a lecture to their students, it is not even googling and is an integral process, that requires the whole society to be involved in.  Parents, neighbors, educators, kids should participate actively in the sharing process of education."

At Starfish we couldn't agree with this more.  Our students may pass their classes, but we want them to understand what they are being tested on and put it into practice in their lives.  We want to empower leaders.  Monica and COMIL have made a giant step in the right direction by giving hope to our students' dreams of a better future, while at the same time learning an important lesson about solidarity and service.
Students at COMIL lined up for morning role call!

We are so grateful to Monica for her energy and efforts in coordination, as well as Vice President of the Parents, Chela and Director of the school, Hugo for their dedication and drive to teach the values of solidarity and service to the students of COMIL - Colegio Militar Combatientes de Tapi N. 6. We hope this is a partnership that continues to be successful for many years to come!

Mil gracias!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Back to School Adventures, Part 1

As we get ready to start up the 2013 school year, the first step is the back-to-school shopping.  The first thing on the Starfish list this year - backpacks!  Three returning Starfish scholars, Betsabeth, Genesis, and Marlon accompanied me to buy 28 new backpacks for our 28 deserving scholars.

Genesis and Betsabeth during the 2012-2013 school year.

We met up in the center around 10AM to scout out all the options.  After visiting 8 or so various shops we decided on two that met our standards of quality and design.  By Noon we were on our way with 28 new backpacks, carefully selected by three excellent scholars.  We celebrated the success with a U.S.-style treat for lunch - pizza!

Marlon and Genesis in one of the stores where we bought backpacks!

Thank you Genesis, Betsabeth and Marlon for your dedication to making Starfish successful!

Some of the backpacks for 2013-2014!