ANNUAL STARFISH BALL OFFERS YOUNG ADULTS HOPE!
In 2005, Darrell Mays was on a flight home from vacation and watched a documentary on youth aging out of foster care. He had what he calls his epiphany: He would support education for those aging out of the system. With that, the nsoro Foundation was born. According to Executive Director Monica Pantoja, the name is derived from the Ghanaian term nsoromma, or children of the heavens. “We believe the children we serve, with so few blood ties, need to be supported and shepherded,” she says. “Our work is not about us but the youth we serve.”
The 2023 Starfish Ball on Jan. 21, named for the starfish poem with the line “it made a difference to that one,” fundraises for nsoro’s scholarship program that benefits young adults ages 16 to 26. The program is about more than just signing a check; recipients are guided to “becoming the best version of themselves” with the assistance of a life coach and lessons in workforce readiness.
Attendees not only enjoy an evening of what Pantoja calls “unparalleled excitement;” they also leave inspired and humbled at how far donations go to uplift young adults. College graduates attend the event and offer powerful testimonies, and donors are treated to a presentation on their successes. Two philanthropists are also honored, typically one from Georgia and one from another market with scholar saturation. “Our honorees are darlings of the community,” Pantoja says. “We call them the King and Queen because our founder’s family is from New Orleans, and each year there’s a Mardi Gras theme.”
This year’s Starfish Ball is at St. Regis Atlanta from 6 p.m. until midnight. Attendees can look forward to a “well-curated and well-paired dinner, live music, live and silent auctions and a pivot to the party with sounds from confetti cannons,” says Pantoja. Tickets are $2,500 per couple.
BY Denise K. James
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