Monday, November 9, 2015

The Top 5 Reasons We Started Starfish

Happy fourth birthday, Starfish! I'm so excited to celebrate this day - I remember when Jenn and I began, I had the thought, "It might last one year, and that's great! Or, it could last 5, and that's awesome. Or maybe even 10 or 20!" Look - just one year out from my next 'mile-marker' -- we've come so far!

I thought it might be fun to share with you a little bit about why Jenn and I decided to start Starfish.

1. We knew we had to give back to those we love, who had given us so much. We had just returned from a powerful year serving in Guayaquil, Ecuador with Rostro de Cristo. We had met these incredible families that had opened their homes to us through offering us food, love, hugs, a listening ear, and so much more. Even if we weren't in this neighborhood specifically (which Starfish isn't), we wanted to support that beautiful culture of hospitality, faith and service.

Some of the children from some of my favorite families, in a neighborhood behind the one where I lived, called Elsa. 

2. Carpe diem. We had to sieze the day! What a better time to do something really crazy then when you just finished doing something else really crazy?! In all seriousness, Jenn and I both knew it was a little nuts -- we were told we shouldn't make any big life decisions during such a powerful transition, but ya know... sometimes your heart just speaks louder than your head. Neither of us had many serious commitments at the time, so it seemed like a reasonable time to take a leap of faith.

3. To put our faith into action. Jenn and I are both dedicated to our faith. We are both Catholic, but we're on the same page that faith is faith -- and it means doing good works when you are able to serve those most in need. We both love the Jesuit traditions (Jenn having gone to Fairfield - me now studying at Loyola, plus spending time at a Jesuit parish in Baltimore). The notions of serving those most in need rings loudly in our hearts, and it's something we take seriously.

4. "She who sees is responsible." Taken from the motto of Notre Dame Preparatory School, we knew we had to do something about what we had witnessed. We had seen (and still see) so many families struggle to make ends meet with food and shelter alone, that education seemed to be a daunting task for our loved ones. We had seen the challenges with finding income, maintaining health, and working for justice - and we knew we couldn't sit still.

5. Because of Hugh, and Dr. Albert Schweitzer, and Villanova. Hugh O'Brian started the famous HOBY Leadership organization, one that I'm quite involved in. Dr. Albert Schweitzer inspired Hugh to start HOBY after a trip to Africa, where Schweitzer asked, "Hugh, what are you going to do about it?"

My family and I with Hugh O'Brian himself!

Around the same time we returned from our year in Ecuador, Villanova (my alma mater) had just started their Ignite Change, Go Nova campaign. The entire campaign focuses on supporting Villanova community members to do things just like this. What perfect timing! I remember visiting campus for the first time after I returned back to the U.S., telling professors and friends that I wanted to start a nonprofit. No one even doubted it -- the common answer was, "Great! Tell me more."

So, Jenn and I decided to ignite some change... and look where we are today. :)

The banner that really inspired my passion to go forth with this project.

We hope you enjoy celebrating this 200th blog post and this 4th birthday with us today -- and here's to many more!

Con cariƱo,

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