STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way, a Norwalk-based non-profit agency that is celebrating its 65th year serving New Canaan and surrounding towns has announced that it has signed an agreement to lease office and program space at 111 Elm Street in the heart of downtown New Canaan. This move that has the potential to enhance and expand local programs for our neighbors with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) is being welcomed by local parents, businesses and town officials. First Selectman Robert Mallozzi who was very helpful in STAR’s efforts to find accessible space and parking was thrilled with the news, “After many years of discussions, I am absolutely delighted to have STAR setting up “shop” here in New Canaan. My friend Katie Banzhaf (Executive Director) and the STAR organization hold a special place in the hearts of many families in New Canaan. The thought that their caring support and programming will be available hyper- locally to our families is a true comfort to so many. Welcome to the neighborhood STAR; so delighted we could all come together and make this happen!!”
STAR’s expansion to space in New Canaan has been long in the making as a response to many requests from local families and as goal to enhance the presence and visibility in all towns served as outlined in STAR’s strategic plan. The recent sale of STAR’s TEC Program space that they’ve owned on Washington Street in South Norwalk since early 1980’s was just the catalyst needed to spur their reallocation of resources to the new space. STAR’s Executive Director, Katie Banzhaf, envisions exciting enhancements to STAR’s services in New Canaan, “We have been searching tirelessly for space in New Canaan that was fully accessible, publicly visible, affordable and integrated in the heart of the town. This location fulfills everything on our wish list and more. We look forward to being good neighbors and we are anxious to make many new New Canaan friends as we find people local jobs, recreational, educational and volunteer opportunities, as well as providing convenient services to families that eliminate travel time.”
The new space will be renovated to include new bathrooms (for all tenants) and a fully accessible bathroom within STAR’s space. Renovations will also include accessible entrance, some office redesign and installation of a kitchenette. The building is already equipped with sprinklers. STAR anticipates the renovations to be completed no later than October 1 and hopes to start moving computers, supplies and furnishings in late September. An official opening and ceremony will be announced closer to the date. The building owner, David Waldman, says this of his new tenants, “With a personal connection to people with disabilities, I am overjoyed for the opportunity to create a welcoming space for STAR to expand its offerings in New Canaan. I am sure the entire town will feel the presence of this wonderful program and appreciate the contributions these fine people make in our community.”
STAR is already well-entrenched in serving New Canaan families with a plethora of activities for people with disabilities which have included classes at New Canaan Mounted Troop, book groups and art at Grace Farms, cooking classes at Kitchens by Deane, ceramics at Art and Soul, fitness classes at the New Canaan YMCA, computer classes at New Canaan library and a weekly Sports Buddies program at New Canaan High School. STAR is the official managing agent for the New Canaan group home located behind the police headquarters that serves six local residents. Likewise, STAR has received countless hours of volunteer support from New Canaan residents including many local churches, S.L.O.B.S., scout groups, high school honor society members, and more. Several members of STAR’s board of directors call New Canaan home. STAR is also grateful for funding from many New Canaan sources including New Canaan Community Foundation, the Dionne Foundation for Special Needs, New Canaan Artisans, Young Women’s League of New Canaan and New Canaan Kiwanis to name a few. STAR has an ongoing relationship with the New Canaan school system and works closely with the LAUNCH program for people with special needs.
STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not–for-profit organization serving individuals of all ages who have intellectual and developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, people on the Autism spectrum and other birth-related challenges as well as providing support services to their families. STAR creates opportunities for individuals to live full lives with independence, freedom of choice and personal growth by providing support, services and advocacy while informing and encouraging the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals.
For more information about STAR or to learn more about individual and corporate volunteer opportunities, visit www.STARct.org or contact Peter Saverine, firstname.lastname@example.org.