Working Towards a Brighter Future

Photo By: Alex Travell



The Story of the Starfish

Why the Starfish?

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had said and done. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.

― Adapted from Loren Eiseley, The Star Thrower


Our Modern Day Starfish

Our world is not perfect. In reality, we know that it is riddled with intricate problems and advanced societal complications that many of us could not begin to understand. However, the burden of human nature lies in our tendency to disregard the things we cannot comprehend. Sometimes it seems easier to ignore these overwhelming ideas rather than facing them with an open heart and an open mind. In actuality, problems are solved, as the parable illustrates, by resolving smaller-scaled issues one at a time. By stripping away the overwhelming prospects of a worldwide dilemma, we can expand our empathetic attributes and work to effectively eliminate the core contentions that lay within the overarching problems. 

I don’t understand every complexity that’s involved in homelessness. I don’t understand the interconnected link of homelessness in relation to other societal problems. I don’t have the perfect, all-inclusive solution that satisfies homelessness. Yet, despite my seemingly ignorant attitude, there is one irrefutable truth that I do know applies to every single homeless person throughout the world… no two people have the same story. Therefore, the generalized homeless population cannot be treated as such. 

Each person has a story that leads him or her to become homeless; therefore, each person has specific obstacles that block him or her from overcoming homelessness. However, as circumstances persist, these various impediments of homelessness can evolve to be larger than one person can handle. It’s OK to need help, but there needs to be a sufficient number of people who are ready and willing to help. It takes trust and persistence and empathy and hope and opportunity, but perhaps most importantly, it takes a paraclete. For those who don’t know what a paraclete is, do not stress because I didn’t either. Basically, a paraclete is an advocate or a helper who uses a steadfast tenacity combined with intense compassion in order to achieve a meaningful relationship with others. We need an army of paracletes that are prepared to provide support and counseling for the lost and impoverished. The problem of homelessness may seem perplexing, but it's not when you take it one starfish at a time.


Mission Statement

Our mission is to bring awareness to the plight of homelessness in the Dallas Community by using thought provoking, effective dancing to deeply inspire people and ultimately shift their perspectives to include an attitude of hope and motivation so that the problem of homelessness is reduced by supporting one individual at a time.

Photo By: Alex Travell



Making A Difference

The Inspiration 

The summer before my junior year, I had the opportunity to attend a dance intensive in San Francisco, California. Every day for four weeks we walked from where we were staying in McAllister Tower to the studio which was about eight blocks away, and every day, we walked through the heart of an area known as the Tenderloin district. The Tenderloin is a location that is notorious for its severe homelessness and general dangerous drug culture. This experience was extremely eye-opening because I had never been around such a large population of homeless people, and I had never been truly exposed to the consequences of that lifestyle. I walked by and saw needles and crack pipes and mental disease and I was genuinely shocked at how grim the situation had become. After seeing this, I began to notice the homelessness in my own community; however, there is a significant difference between San Francisco and Dallas. Homelessness in Dallas is not even close to the degree of homelessness in San Francisco, meaning that we can solve this problem. Once I came to this realization, I began to brainstorm ways that I could contribute to the solution. The simple change in perspective that I went through motivated me to want to make a difference, and I wanted to create the same effect for others. Through research and interviews, I decided that the most necessary thing that the homelessness problem lacks is awareness, and the way that I came up with to provide this exposure was by combining my passions of dance, journalism, and social reform so that I can educate and inspire the community to band together and support those in need. In truth, donating time and resources to causes is somewhat of an implied obligation for many people because we each have our own sense of moral decency that we strive to uphold, and charity work is often how we accomplish this fulfillment. My project will ultimately serve as an outlet in which individuals can devote themselves to the movement of ending homelessness.

Starfish Dallas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.

Starfish Dallas is the sole provider of the event and the event is exempt from tax.

The net proceeds from the event will be donated to: Our Friends Place and St. Jude Center - Senior Housing For the Homeless.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 7:00 p.m.

Moody Performance Hall

2520 Flora St., Dallas TX 75201

Photo By: Alex Travell


Founder and Producer

Ashton Benn is a Dallas native who has been dancing since age three. She started her serious training at KJ Dance 6 years ago, performing works by Jonathan Campbell, Ida Saki, and Madison Hicks. She is currently a senior at Booker T. Washington HSPVA where she continues her classical and modern dance training and has performed the repertoire of Aszure Barton, George Balanchine, and Charles O. Anderson. Over the past three years, Ashton has attended summer intensives including San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Axis Connect, The Protege Movement, and Moving Forward Dallas. Ashton has also performed in shows such as Wanderlust Dance Project, the Soul Escape Summer Event, and Dallas Dancefest.



Dance is a truly beautiful art form that has been appreciated for centuries because of its thought-provoking yet entertaining delivery of a myriad of different beliefs and feelings. Dance is essentially its own language that surpasses oral dialogue and relies on natural expression to convey intended ideas. It is still a producer of eloquent discussion, but it is presented in its own hybrid form. The theater becomes a round table and the title of “dancer” and “audience member” ceases to exist as the entire experience is transformed into a conversation. Opinions are introduced, topics are understood, life stories are swapped, and resolutions are generated all through corporeal movement. The memorable, inspiring performances are often the ones in which the dancer has a revelation that is externalized through the movement the dancer is carrying out. These authentic, vulnerable moments are what translates to spectators because they are the most human, the most relatable.

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My passion is dance and movement, but it is not the sole holder of all my enthusiasms and fascinations. I also have a strong desire to effect change. I want to use what I know about myself and my surroundings to inspire a compelling movement where a difference is made. I believe that dance can be a catalyst for the advancement of our society because it has the capability to deeply touch people and ultimately shift their perspectives of what our community has accepted to be true.

Through the creation of engaging, stimulating works, we can bring awareness to homelessness and incite a campaign for progress in the Dallas community. This show will serve as our forum to exchange ideas and each significant dance performed will help safeguard the necessary means for improvement in the minds of the audience members.



The details

Starfish Dallas is a unique dance concert to promote homeless awareness and inspire community involvement.  The event will be a narrated dance program with photo and video aids themed around the idea of solving the homeless problem by making a difference to one homeless individual (one starfish) at a time.


The concert will take place at the Moody Performance Hall on September 18, 2019 at 7:00 pm.

Pre-show cocktails will begin at 5:30 pm.

2520 Flora St., Dallas TX 75201




Thank you!

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors:


Thompson Knight Foundation

The Catholic Foundation


©2019 by Starfish Dallas- Homeless Awareness.