For 25 years, Andrew Stein plied his trade in the banking industry, helping finance scores of infrastructure projects across Latin America and Asia.
"I was one of the top fliers in the United States on Continental Airlines," he says. "I was traveling incessantly. So I decided to go to every country manager and say that if you wanted me to come and pitch business, you had to find me an orphanage, two hours in the schedule, and let me play with some kids. That was going to be my salvation for these trips."
But it was a conversation he had with a Catholic nun, at an orphanage in Chile, that changed everything.
"She said 'I'm not sure if you know what happens here, but at the age of 18, by law, these girls are considered adults. And they have to leave our little home. And 100% of these girls become prostitutes or live on the streets."
Stein says he and the nuns sat down and determined education and job training would be the pathways to helping provide opportunities to children, once they aged-out of the system. He then returned home to New York and convinced one of his top clients, a law firm, to file the paperwork necessary to create a charity. He then went to family and friends and raised about $40,000 to build a state-of-the-art computer center in the orphanage.
"Six months later I went back, and it was magic," says Stein. "The younger kids became top of their class. The older kids learned how to use Microsoft Office, so they learned how to use the keyboard. They had a skill."
Today, the Orphaned Starfish Foundation has 52 computer centers in 27 countries around the world (including the US), helping over 12,000 children who are victims of abuse, trafficking or poverty.
A father to some. A magician to others. But Stein says there's no secret or sleight of hand in the work he does. It just comes down to caring.
"When I go back and I talked to my old friends in banking, people ask if I miss the toys, if I miss the big houses," says Stein.
"I live in a 600 square-foot apartment in Astoria, Queens. And I tell them I don't miss it really at all. I have the very incredible feeling of knowing what I was put here to do, and the ability to do it. There is magic in the world. You can, with just a little bit, make more of a difference than you can possibly imagine."