Past Recipients

2018 Great Hearts Award Recipient

  • Beaumont Health

2017 Great Hearts Award Recipient

  • The Jewish Fund

2016 Great Hearts Award Recipient

  • Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and its President Mariam C. Noland

2015 Great Hearts Award Recipient

  • Rebecca A. Boylan and Thomas W. Sidlik
Rebecca A. Boylan and Thomas W. Sidlik

Rebecca A. Boylan and Thomas W. Sidlik

2014 Great Hearts Award Recipients

  • The Citrin Family
  • The Jack Demmer Family
  • The Honorable John D. Dingell and Debbie Dingell
Susie, Jon and Bob Citrin

Susie, Jon and Bob Citrin

The Citrin trio: father Robert, mother Susie and son Jonathan all have greatly contributed to the Starfish mission of strengthening families to create brighter futures for children. They’ve devoted countless hours, expended relentless energy, and forged valuable connections that help further our mission, and they have been instrumental in helping thousands of vulnerable families prepare their children for a successful start to school.

Jonathan is the immediate past chairman of the Starfish Board of Directors and a Guardian Society for Lifetime Giving member. His years of volunteering and connecting with Starfish children and families continue today as he serves as an essential agency ambassador. Jonathan’s infectious enthusiasm for Starfish inspired his parents to also become avid Starfish supporters.

Susie is a longtime volunteer and committee member who has served on both the Evening for Starfish Host and Sponsorship Committees. Her boundless creativity has brought animation and joy to our annual fundraiser.

“Mr. Bob,” as he is affectionately known by hundreds of Starfish preschoolers, has been a dedicated Starfish volunteer for over five years. Each week, Mr. Bob faithfully spends a morning in our Head Start classrooms where he performs magic tricks, reads to the children, and lends a hand to our teachers. Consistent classroom time allows him to forge personal relationships with the children who look forward to his weekly visits.


Jim Demmer accepting the Great Hearts Award on behalf of the Jack Demmer Family

Mr. Jack Demmer has been a cherished Starfish supporter for well over 20 years. Joining the board of Youth Living Centers in 1995, he helped the agency grow, overseeing its eventual merger with Northwest Community Services to form Starfish Family Services in 1998. Mr. Demmer stepped down from the board in 2002 but has continued to promote and support the Starfish mission through his words and good deeds.

Over the years, Mr. Demmer has inspired his employees and multiple generations of his family in support of Starfish. We are so grateful that Jack and Margaret Demmer’s children and grandchildren have chosen to continue the family legacy of generosity within our community where they live and do business. In addition to the family’s generous philanthropic giving, the Demmers have opened doors for Starfish with other donors and foundation partners. And, we are delighted when we hear from our front desk that “a very nice man” has dropped off basketballs or books or other gifts for Starfish children and quickly left before we could extend our thanks! Generosity comes from the Demmers’ hearts – no thank you or recognition is sought!

For the past 20 years, the extended Demmer family has given of their time and passion to help strengthen local families. We thank Jack and Margaret Demmer for being Guardian Society for Lifetime Giving members. Their leadership and multi-generational family involvement are truly inspiring.

Honorable John Dingell, and the Honorable Debbie Dingell

Honorable John Dingell, and the Honorable Debbie Dingell

Both the Honorable John Dingell, past Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives, and wife the Honorable Debbie Dingell , current U.S. House of Representative’s member have shown unwavering support for causes and issues that help build a safety net and path to self-sufficiency for vulnerable families in our country, state, and region. The Dingells have positively impacted policy and legislation that have brought healthcare and early childhood services to some of our most fragile citizens. As a lifetime advocate for protecting public health, Congressman Dingell authored the Affordable Care Act, the Patient’s Bill of Rights, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and many other significant pieces of legislation. The Congressman has been a staunch advocate for local children and recently championed Starfish in its successful pursuit of Early Head Start funding to meet the needs of pregnant women and infants /toddlers in some of Detroit’s most stressed neighborhoods.

Debbie Dingell has spent years supporting early childhood education and development, including playing a key role in the recent expansion of state-funded preschool programs to eliminate wait lists for families seeking quality pre-K services. Debbie recently served as co-chair of the Children’s Leadership Council of Michigan, a coalition of business leaders highlighting the importance of investing in early childhood programs. “Business needs to be the voice and needs to advocate for young people,” Debbie said of the initiative. “And we need to make that investment early, so children are prepared when they enter school and they have the skill set they need to be successful.”

2013 Great Hearts Award Recipients

  • PNC Grow Up Great Volunteers
PNC Grow Up Great Volunteers

PNC Grow Up Great Volunteers

Starfish is always grateful to host the wonderful PNC volunteers. Since 2009, PNC Bank and Grow Up Great volunteers have been vital partners with Starfish in our mission of strengthening families to create brighter futures for children. Grow Up Great is PNC’s multi-year initiative to help prepare underserved preschool children for success in school and life. Through this comprehensive program, PNC provides leadership, advocacy, funding, volunteers and education resources to families, educators and community partners. PNC encourages employee involvement in Grow Up Great through a progressive policy that permits 40 hours a year of paid time off for volunteerism.

At Starfish, PNC volunteers have painted offices and classrooms; collected diapers and books; planted gardens; read to children; served on Starfish leadership boards, including the governance and community boards; helped pack food to send home with children; assisted Starfish with event planning; and been vital volunteers at the Starfish monthly Parent Empowerment Program. From 2009-2013, over 100 PNC volunteers have logged nearly 800 hours of volunteer time at Starfish Family Services. During this same time, PNC has been a major financial partners to the Starfish Parent Empowerment Program, a parent training program designed to educate, engage and empower parents of young children so they can become their child’s best and most effective teacher. Each month over 100 parents received parenting education to help their children grow up great!

2012 Great Hearts Award Recipient

  • Ford Volunteer Corps