This October, Starr Commonwealth celebrated 105 years of creating positive experiences for children, families and communities with a fundraising event at the Detroit Zoo’s Wildlife Interpretive Gallery.
The open gallery was decorated with over a hundred butterflies, each brought to life by a student in Starr’s programs. Suspended above the crowd as if in flight, they symbolized the positive transformation each child has seen in themselves since becoming a part of the Starr family.
During the program, four courageous students took to the stage to perform spoken word pieces they written. Each painted a picture for the crowd of the difficult situations that they found themselves in before coming to Starr, and how staff are helping them transform into the people they were meant to be.
After those brave performances, Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Caelan Soma introduced Lincoln Park Public Schools (LPPS), winner of the 2018 Child Advocacy Award. LPPS have been working for the past year to transform their district and personnel into trauma informed professionals, emphasizing the importance of meeting the social and emotional needs of their students. Superintendent of LPPS, Terry Dangerfield, accepted the award, saying, “We stand tall for children because they are our future. If we don’t do this work for them, then who will?”
The next award was the 2018 Starr Alumni President Emeritus Award, which was presented by current Starr Board of Trustee member, alumnus and President of the Starr Alumni Association, Stanley Allen. Stanley spoke about the how the Alumni Association started, how it has grown and how it has become a family that offers ongoing support to its members through scholarships, networking and volunteer opportunities.
Stanley presented the awards to Dr. Jim Pelt and George Wilson, two former Starr Alumni Association Presidents. They each spoke about what they had learned from Starr and how it has shaped them into the adults they are today. “Most of the people in this room did not have the opportunity to know Uncle Floyd,” Jim said. “He was a great man – small in stature, but large in heart.”
Ken Ponds, former chaplain at Starr’s Albion campus and current Associate Trainer for the Starr Global Learning Network, introduced the final award of the evening. He presented the Oneness of Humankind Award to Joe and Clara Stewart for their lifelong dedication to healing the human family.
During their acceptance speech, Joe took a moment to direct the audience towards the balcony, where the four students who had spoken earlier in the program were watching. As one, he asked the crowd to turn, lift their voices and tell the students, “I love you,” a reminder that there will always be people who care for them. It was an incredibly powerful moment that evening.
Thanks to generous sponsors and guests, over $140,000 was raised on this momentous evening, which will continue to build resilience in all the children, families and professionals served. This great work could not be done without those who stand tall with Starr.
If you would like to make a donation and stand tall with Starr, please visit www.starr.org/donate.
For more photos from the event, check out our Facebook page.
Thank you to Our Gold and Silver Sponsors!
Thank you to Our Bronze Sponsors!