Thursday, December 25, 2014

¡Feliz Navidad!

From all of us at Starfish, we want to wish you a very 
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's Christmas Time in the City...of Guayaquil!

The holiday season is in full swing here in Ecuador.  The city center is decorated and Christmas music is playing at all of the malls.  Concerts, parades and other presentations to celebrate the holidays take place on a daily basis.

At Starfish, our celebrations have started as well.  Our classrooms are decorated and Christmas traditions have commenced.  Last Sunday in Guasmo and this coming Saturday in Flor mark the dates for our now annual Christmas party for the younger siblings of Starfish.  Christmas is a season of giving, and as part of our Scholars' commitment to their scholarship, they plan and host a party each year for their younger siblings as a community service project.  There is music, dancing, presentations, snacks, face painting and more.  This year the Guasmo crew even chipped in to buy a piñata!  The Scholars' siblings all leave with a special toy and gift bag of candy as a treat to celebrate Christmas!

Starfish Scholars and tutoring students will also celebrate Christmas this coming week with music, dancing, Secret Santa, and a raffle for some donated clothes.  Follow us on facebook & twitter for more Christmas updates from our students during the 12 days of Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

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!!!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

November Updates from Ecuador!

In Flor our biggest accomplishment over the past few months has definitely been family involvement.  Involved families has had a direct result on the increased attendance, punctuality and grades of our students.  While there is always much more work to be done, I am really proud of our employees who have made great efforts to improve relations with our students' families.  As grades come in from first semester I am proud to say grades are improving across the board in Flor!  Parents have become involved in more ways - providing daily snack, and lunch twice a week for our international volunteers who travel 2 hours on bus twice a week from our Guasmo neighborhood where they live.  Parent meeting attendance is well over 90% as well - a great example for our Scholars!

During the November meeting our Flor educadores prepared a meeting for the parents about getting to know their children in a new way.  First we did a fun dinámica where the parents were blindfolded and had to find their child(ren) by touching their faces to see if they could recognize them. Then the child & parent teams had to present facts about each other - what they like to do, what they've learned from each other to the whole group.  Lastly, parents were asked to fill out a survey about how much they know about their child's school, grades, likes/dislikes, etc. in preparation for our next set of visits to the schools.


After the parents left, the kids got to finish up with a fun activitity with our volunteers, 2 of whom just finished their voluntariado.


In Guasmo, thanks to a continued partnership with Mi Cometa and the scholarship program that runs there - CASF, we have been blessed with the help of 3 educational psychology students in their last year of their studies.  As the prepare to graduate, they are completing their internships with Starfish & Mi Cometa families.  Twice per week they attend to special cases with our students and their parents, in hopes of establishing more communication, a better home life, and as a result the ability to succeed in their studies.  Once a week a licensed psychologist also comes to treat some of the more delicate cases, as delegated by the intern psychologists during the week.  This trial period will continue throughout December and we hope to continue this program next year as well as expand its service to our Flor de Bsatión neighborhood!

All in all, November was an exciting month at Starfish - and December is sure to have even more excitement with the holidays just around the corner!