The Gem Starfish Foundation
The Gem Starfish foundation is a 501c3 established for the purpose of providing 1) financial assistance to Gem Academy families who find themselves in such distressed circumstances that, without help, their daughter would be unable to complete their treatment and 2) provide scholarships to young women who both present a distinct need for long-term obesity treatment and have demonstrated a selfless concern and willingness to serve others through volunteerism.
What makes the Gem Starfish foundation a little different is that all assistance is given in the form of a loan. The repayment of that loan is in the form of volunteerism and service work in the family’s home community. It is the foundation’s belief that we all hold a far greater value than currency or wealth and that a person’s time, care and concern can affect more change than we often realize.
The foundations name is adapted from the parable by Loren Eiseley in her essay “The Star Thrower“. This speaks to the overwhelming nature of the childhood obesity epidemic. How with numbers so large we can lose sight of the fact that behind every number in a statistic there is a young person’s life, a life with hopes and dreams and a future yet unwritten.
“Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small girl approaching. As the girl walked, she paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The girl came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young girl paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The little girl bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she turned, smiled and said, “It made all the difference in the world to that one!”
That one has a name and that one has a future and with your help they will have the opportunity to also make a difference.