The stories of Bill and Patrina are great examples of the intent and the possibilities of The Starfish Fund. Short versions are below, along with links to longer versions written by them.
The story of Patrina Felts: In 2001, while attending a program sponsored by the Maine Job Corps Center, Patrina met Bill Cumming. Only a few minutes into the first session of the "What One Person Can Do" program she thought "this dude is crazy!" Soon she was captivated by what she was learning about Ownership, Responsibility, Loving-kindness....and by what she was learning about herself. Life took Patrina from Maine to New Jersey where she followed her passion for caring for children and held tight to her dream of providing a home for hard to place foster children. Years later, Patrina reconnected with Bill and took a trip "home" to spend the holidays with him and his family in Maine, bringing with her three of her inner city foster children. There, she share her dream for Trina's House and her desire to leave the inner city and return to Maine. With Bill's support and encouragement Patrina became one of the first recipients of The Starfish Fund and made the move, living with Bill for a short time before settling into her own place. Today she is a licensed therapeutic foster partner pursing her dream. The foster children of Maine are benefiting. To read her story in own words, please click here.
The story of William F. McIntosh (Bill M.): The short version goes like this: Bill M. grows up in an incredibly dysfunctional household where physical and emotional abuse is the common and earning a living by way of theft and selling drugs is the norm. Living his life by the example set for him lands him in juvenile detention facilities, county jail and ultimately, The Maine State Prison (MSP). While there, he reluctantly participates in The New Horizons Academy, where he meets Bill Cumming who is leading the 12 week “What One Person Can Do” conversation. The program has a profound impact on Bill M. (click here to read the story in Bill’s own words).
Once out of prison, Bill M., a skilled carpenter, searches for a job, hoping to find something steady, beyond unloading fish or day labor that would allow him to provide for his family. The interviews went fine until Bill revealed that he received his carpentry training in the MSP. In frustration, he calls Bill Cumming. By pooling resources and asking friends for assistance, Bill C. gives Bill M. the opportunity to set up shop and work his trade (thus becoming one of the first recipients in the then pilot idea known as The Starfish Fund). Today – Bill M. is the proud owner of Freedom Furniture based in Portland, Maine. There he builds fine hand crafted custom furniture and accessories, including the classic Maine boot bench featured below.