My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Starlight Children's Foundation, Culver City, CA, USA
Starlight Global advertise an incredible mission to 'empower donors and strengthen communities by supporting the physical and emotional health of children and their families where they live, work and play'. If only they stuck by this.
Over the years, Starlight has had an incredible and positive impact in my life. I live in Australia, so I first came involved with Starlight through Starlight Australia, (which I will note is separate to Starlight Global), through the incredible Starlight Express Room at my paediatric hospital. Going to the Starlight Express Room was an incredible escape from my reality of what seemed like endless admissions, treatments and procedures and therapies. For a moment I could just forget about my reality, I could just go and joke around with the Starlight captains, chat about the things people my age usually would, play some games, do some art and just enjoy myself. It was incredible!
It was here I was introduced to Livewire Online, which is Starlight Australia's great online social network for kids and young adults living a chronic or serious illness or disability, supporting them both in hospital and at home. At the time, this program was joined in a chat room with Starlight Global's similar program, Starbright World.
I loved Starbright World right from day one. It was incredible. The impact it had on my life was even more incredible. When I joined Starbright World, I was not in a great place. Stuck in a hospital, far from home, after having had my life as I had known it, turned upside down and torn apart, I was incredibly withdrawn and isolated and felt misunderstood by those around me and felt I had little purpose in life.
Starbright World changed that. It was like a chosen family right from the first time I logged on. For the first time ever, I felt as though someone understood what I was going through. I realised I was not alone in the challenges I faced. I could log in at any time and chat to people who had faced similar challenges and experiences, people I could relate to and gain invaluable advice and support from. But it was so much more than that as well, it was not all about the medical challenges we were facing, it was just like we were actual friends, talking about everything else that was happening in people's lives. How school or sport or art classes were going, the latest and greatest TV show, movie or music, celebrity gossip and whatever else came to mind. We played games, we watched movies together, we did everything. The distance between us was irrelevant!
There was even more than this too though. During my years on Starbright World, I grew so much as an individual. Members and moderators shared their experiences of how they did not let their diagnoses and prognosis define what they achieved in life. It was the first time I realised, 'well, yes I have been told I will not be able to do much anymore, such as returning to education and sport, but why should that stop me at least trying?'. It made me realise that the world was still my oyster, anything was possible if I wanted it and put my mind to it. The support I received from everyone was incredible. They were there to help navigate and support me through the tough times, and celebrate with me during the great times. I was given incredible opportunities within the community, both in leadership and general skills that helped me gain and build on skills. I became a lot of confident and self motivated, and this helped build up my life outside of Starbright World too.
I can safely say, that there is absolutely no way I would be where I am in life today, achieving what I am, without Starbright World. Because of Starbright World, I am living my life to the fullest. I am at university, studying medical research, I am heavily involved within my community, mentoring youth with disabilities, running seminars, am part of a youth disability advisory and advocacy board, am president of Sailability, an organisation aimed at getting people of all abilities on the water sailing and so much more. Because of Starbright World, I know that my diagnoses or prognosis's do not have to and now will not ever define what I can not do.
Recently, Starlight Global made the incredibly sad decision to end this program, a program that was having an incredible impact of many people's lives. Now, I understand that there comes a time for all things to come to an end, and I also understand there sometimes comes a time when things are not longer viable, but Starlight Global tore this community apart in the worst possible way. They used foolish statistics, that showed how out of reach with the program they were, to notify the members of the community that there was no longer a need for the program and it would close in 72 hours. They had little care for this incredible community. They tore the communities home or landing place away from us without even notifying all of the members, some of whom had been members for years on end. To this day, they have still failed to notify all of the members. They just removed the site and all proof of its existence, which as a member of the site for years, find truly disappointing.
Once again, Starlight Global claims to strengthen communities by supporting the physical and emotional health of children and their families where they live, work and play. They did everything but this.
Very disappointed with Starlight Global, and I definitely think people should think twice about supporting this foundation in the future.
Although the names may be misleading, Starlight Australia, and other Starlight counterparts, who are not part of the running of Starlight Global, around the world continue to have incredible impact on the lives of those living with chronic and serious illnesses and disabilities, through their amazing programs. Support should definitely continue of these organisations.