One of the most important components of the Starfish Connection program is to provide a variety of enrichment experiences that gives our students the opportunity to experience the world.  With this comes a growing sense of confidence that positively impacts a child’s life!


When I met Alyson in June 2019, she had just completed second grade. One of the first things I learned about her was that she did not know how to swim. This was something Alyson really wanted to do! I set out to help her last summer by taking her to a pool to which I have access, and she began to practice basic strokes. Alyson was fearless in the water and enjoyed it, so she enrolled in a beginner swimming class at the Y. In the fall, her swimming skills really took off when she began lessons at Chelsea Piers, arranged and paid for by Starfish. She spent the fall in the younger splash pool, but by January, Alyson had graduated to the big pool. I met her mom there one Monday, and we both had tears in our eyes as Alyson demonstrated the backstroke with confidence.!

-Caroline Romans, Mentor


Over the past two years, Jairon and I have read (me first and then I give my book to him) 18 Vince Flynn fictional novels in the “Mitch Rapp” series. In my busy schedule it may take me 30 days to read each book. Jairon, who is now completing his sophomore year, reads them on the bus and whenever he is not doing his school work. He polishes them off in a week or less. I am amazed at his interest in these CIA spy thrillers and his ability to read and follow each story. Often, it is difficult to get children to read, much less 500-page books! I love that it gives us something we share and can talk about. It is truly a treat for both of us! Book #19 is due to be published in September and we are both looking forward to it! 

-Fred Rossetti, Mentor


Gemere and I had an especially fun outing. We went shopping for some sorely needed school supplies. He took the lead, carefully and thoughtfully making his selections. We followed the shopping excursion with lunch, which gave us a chance to talk about many things including school and, of course, basketball. We shared his goals and the things that can sometimes get in the way. Throughout the day, Gemere took the lead, pushing the shopping cart, comparing prices, selecting the checkout line, making the restaurant choice, and selecting the most costeffective items on the menu. He enjoyed taking charge and sharing his exploits with his family. It was such a fun and rewarding afternoon for both of us! 

-Susan Toliver, Mentor


Last year, when the former CEO of First County Bank, Rey Giallongo, and his wife, Cheryl Palmer, retired to South Carolina, I volunteered to be the new mentor to Cheryl’s student, Cindy. We’ve already had many happy moments. One of the most memorable was having the pleasure of escorting Cindy to the Laurel House Champions for Recovery dinner at the Delamar Hotel. It was especially poignant because Cheryl and her husband were among the honorees, and Cindy had a chance to celebrate with them. During the evening we socialized with many of the other guests and Cindy seemed so poised and grown up. She even got out on the dance floor! When I brought her home, Cindy happily told me what a great time she had had. As a relatively new mentor with little experience with young people, it made me feel like I was floating on air. I felt so pleased knowing that Cindy had enjoyed spending time with me at the event. I’m so glad I made the decision to join the family of Starfish mentors!

-Karen M. Kelly, Mentor


Keyli auditioned for and got the lead in her school musical. Canceled! She was excited about her upcoming two weeks at sleepaway camp. Canceled! Then she planned to attend summer camp at Curtain Call in Stamford. Canceled! I am happy to report that, in spite of these bumps in the road, Keyli continues to do very well academically and is willing to try all the alternative experiences I can find for her. Since the summer, Keyli entered Stamford High School and tried out and got a part in the Stamford HS musical “It’s a wonderful life” and is also taking zoom Broadway Bound acting lessons from Curtain Call. Her ability to focus and stay positive in this difficult time confirms my strong belief in her ability to succeed. This is what Starfish is all about!

-Diane Greene, Mentor

The mission of Starfish Connection is to address Stamford’s academic achievement gap by providing long-term mentoring, after-school and summer enrichment programs, and educational support to promising students from the city’s underserved families. We pair a mentor with a student, one-on-one to provide these resources.

The Starfish Connection is a 501c3 corporation. We rely on generous contributions like yours to fulfill our mission. Your donation will be used solely to support after school and summer enrichment activities for these academically talented Stamford youth. If you would like to make a tax-deductable donation to the Starfish Connection, please do so on our donation page!

Our Founder and Inspiration

The Starfish Connection website is dedicated to the memory of our cofounder, Judith Martin. Judy and her husband David had a dream of enriching and changing the lives of promising Stamford young people.