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On April 21, 2018, contributing writer Raquel Davis and her two daughters, social media correspondent, Destinee’ Merritt and photographer Charity Merritt, attended  An Evening for the Stars: Starfish Benefit Dinner held at the Red Lion Hotel in Timonium, MD.

Few days before the Starfish Benefit dinner, my daughters, Destinee’ and Charity, and I joined Sharing the Details to cover an event located around my neighborhood in Baltimore County, Maryland. This particular event was hosted by The Starfish Foundation, a safe hub that provides education and leadership development to Ecuadorian high school students who are currently living in extreme poverty.

Being an educator of fifteen years myself, and a mother to a high school graduate (Destinee) and a high school senior student (Charity), I understand the importance of having a good education. And how life changing it could be without it.

The Starfish Foundation was founded in November 9, 2011. Their mission is to “be a premier means for at-risk Ecuadorian youth to achieve a post secondary education.” They provide scholarships to students in Ecuador to finish their high school education and help students develop into strong leaders. Presently, the program has 150 students and is looking to expand space to receive more participants.

 Here’s how the The Starfish Foundation stays engaged (and how you can be involved):

  1. To Sponsor a Scholar – For just $30 per month, one can support a student to attend school along with the necessities required to receive an education.
  2. Join in the fun! – Locals can participate in the March Madness challenge, attend a Happy Hour on Giving Tuesday after the Thanksgiving holiday, and/or compete in their virtual scavenger hunt Starfish Search in the Fall.
  3. Volunteer – The Starfish Foundation are looking for volunteers both in the U.S. and in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
  4. Stay in touch – Connect on social media by sharing and posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and blog.
  5. Shopping on Amazon – Help buy items to donate from their Wish List and/or Add the non-profit as the Amazon Smile program receiver for whenever shopping online!

And of course, the attending the Benefit Dinner dedicated in celebrating and supporting the Students in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

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The Starfish Foundation Event Banner

When we walked into the venue, we were greeted by  members of the organization. The Welcome Party gave each of us printed and laminated name tags. There were tables with Silent Auctions items to bid on to and a Photo Booth with the Starfish Foundation Logo backdrop, ensuring all guests will be Stars for the night! Even the food was exquisite! We had  salad, rice & beans, shrimp, chicken and fried plantain chips from a self serving buffet line. Once we were seated, we noticed recipes placed on each table for guests to try at home.

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Salad at the Table. Photo Courtesy of Charity Merritt of At Five Photography.

Here’s a sample recipe on how to prepare Plantain Chips!

Ingredients:

  • Green plantains
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: Chili pepper or garlic gloves to season the oil

Plantain Chips

  • Peel the plantains
  • Cut the plantains in thin slices.
  • Heat the oil, either in a pot or frying pan, until it reaches around 375 F – 400 F. Use enough oil so that the plantains are completely covered to brown.
  • Add the plantains slices to the hot oil. Fry them until they begin to brown.
  • Sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve hot or cold

Each table center also had a bulletin that featured students from the program next to the creatively cut lemon and flowers center pieces. My table highlighted a beautiful soul named, Karla.

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Karla. Photo courtesy of Charity Merritt of At Five Photography.

“Karla enjoys spending time with her siblings, she is fifteen years old and her favorite color is gold. She likes rice with fried chicken.” I only look forward to her success story!

There is a saying that goes, “Teamwork makes the Dream work!” I must say, for The Starfish Foundation it holds true because over 200 people came out to support. 

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Packed house. Photo courtesy of Charity Merritt of At Five Photography.

For an organization which started almost seven years ago, the Starfish Foundation has accomplished in making a positive impact in South America. However, there is still so much more work to be done. It was a great pleasure to have met the leaders in the group and join other guests in supporting such a great cause.

An Evening For the Stars, is an annual event held in the Spring hosted by The Starfish Foundation. Be sure to come out and dine with Starfish next year! In the mean time, join the mailing list to be notified of their other annual events. 

Written by Raquel Davis

Author, Life Coach, Talent Manager and Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Inspired By The One Publishing, LLC. (www.ibtopublishing.com). Raquel is known for bringing messages of hope and change to the life of others. She has written a 31-day devotional book for women, titled “A Dose Each Day," in addition to writing online devotionals for churches, located in Maryland and Tennessee. Raquel has built a publishing company that is dedicated to serving, creating and providing books that inform, educate and inspire.

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