A College Student: Annie Reich

Starfish invests in you as a whole person. I had no idea what I was getting into. At Starfish, we go above and beyond.”

As my time at Starfish came to an end, I reflected a lot on all of the amazing experiences I have had here. I have had some time to sit back and think about all of the amazing people that I will miss and all of the life lessons I have learned since being here. The biggest lesson being how important it is to invest in someone in all aspects of their lives and not one or two areas.

Starfish is very unique in the way that they fully invest in the students, the mentors, and the volunteers. We are all loved so well here, and we are cared about with all aspects of our lives. Being a volunteer here I have experience true, unconditional love. The mentors, students and aunty Yassin have shown me what it really means to be loved by someone for who I am. I do not have to put on a face or pretend to be someone I am not. They simply love me because I am me. They care about me and my future goals. They invest in me and my overall wellbeing.

During my first month here at Starfish, I became very sick and my body was not able to digest any type of food. As I went to the hospital, Jane (one of the mentors) held me in the back of the car as I was in pain. She never left my side and cared for me throughout the entire process. After the doctor visits, I met up with aunty Yassin and we created my very own food meal plan. She sat down with me one on one and made sure that I was getting food that my body could digest and that I would also enjoy eating. She personally introduced me to the Starfish’s cook, aunty Ma, so that I could grow a better relationship with her so if I needed any food meal plan changes we could talk about them and discuss any changes if needed. They checked up on me throughout my entire stay here to make sure my stomach was doing much better and that I was comfortable with my stay here.

Starfish does not only love me unconditionally, they love everyone in the community and especially their students. The Starfish mentors makes it a priority to do home visits of all of the Starfish students. That way she can have a more personal relationship with each student and their family. That means she does over 100 home visits every year.

The mentors, volunteers and aunty Yassin make sure to get to know the students on a personal level and to care for them outside of the classroom. We do this by having special days where we can hang out with the students, play soccer with them, go to the beach together, and cook together for the small business center. We help teach the students in the classroom, and work one on one with them outside of the classroom if they need extra help. When the students get hurt, for an example get a burn, we help patch them up and provide the best first aid we can until we can get them to the doctors. We push the students very hard so that they will be pushed out of their comfort zones and will experience a new side of themselves that they may have never seen before.

We push the students so they understand that they all have a voice and that their voice is very important to be heard. We love on the students with all of our hearts so they know that they will always have us as their support system. Love is a huge aspect here that helps make Starfish such a unique and special place. We are all cared for so well here. Starfish does not just invest in our educations, but our well beings as a whole. Starfish pushes us out of our comfort zones so that we can become the very best versions of ourselves. Starfish loves us and shows us what true love looks like.

At first, I had no idea what I was getting into. Before coming to Starfish I had no idea I would have experienced such a wonderful and loving community. Reflecting on my stay here, it’s hard to think about how I will wake up every day without being loved by my new family.