Forty-five years ago, a group of determined women decided to make a difference in the lives of Valley-area residents with developmental disabilities.
They realized that once special-needs students aged out of the public school system, there were almost no resources available to special-needs children and their families.
So — a small collection of compassionate and dedicated women — who soon became known as the Godmothers — put together a plan, secured a modest grant from the city of Scottsdale, and secured a trailer.
This was a humble, but auspicious, beginning for Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services, commonly known as STARS.
From that trailer, the Godmothers began offering skills training and life-enjoyment programs for citizens with developmental disabilities and their families. Over the years the programming at STARS has evolved and expanded, and now includes employment opportunities, active participation in art and music classes, and life skills coaching.
These programs at STARS enable the participants and their families to integrate easily into the Scottsdale community.
Today, STARS serves about 250 people with developmental disabilities every day. Our youngest participant is 8-years-old, and our oldest participant just turned 80. Families consider STARS a lifeline of support and opportunity.
For our younger participants, we provide after-school and summer camp activities which often include field trips throughout the city. For our adults, we offer life-enrichment programs and employment opportunities in our on-site work centers and at off-site corporate partner work enclaves.
If you have a Cox cable television remote control, chances are very good it was refurbished at our on-site work center. You may have met a STARS participant who was bagging your groceries at Fry’s. Other participants work at Chick-Fil-A, do an outstanding job cleaning local hospitals, and do laundry for the Scottsdale Fire Department.
Our participants are indeed integrated into our community!
The city of Scottsdale continues to support STARS by providing grant funding through The Scottsdale Cares Program — please check the box on your utility statement! These donations made by Scottsdale Citizens allow nonprofits to continue to offer services to Scottsdale residents. The Charros are another great STARS partner.
The Charros have faithfully and generously supported STARS throughout our history. Their commitment to improving lives of people with developmental disabilities has been outstanding. Their encouragement, support and friendship lift up the entire organization.
STARS provides programming for its participants at two sites in Scottsdale — one on the campus of the former Cheyenne Traditional School on Cholla road near Villa Linda and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard (known as our Cholla Campus), and at a site across the street from the Scottsdale Ballpark on Osborn Road.
We are excited about a new multi-purpose space at the Cholla Campus. Working with our long-term partners, the Charros, we have repurposed the former Cheyenne cafeteria into a social and recreational common area that allows the STARS participants and staff to exercise, enjoy quiet time in a library area, eat together in a communal space, dance to videos and enjoy arcade-style games.
We cordially invite the Scottsdale community to join us on Monday May 14th at 8 a.m. at our Cholla site at 1113 E. Cholla to celebrate the opening of the new STARS Commons and to meet our participants and staff.
STARS is proud to say that we are an important part of the Scottsdale Community’s fabric, and that our mission continues to give individuals with developmental disabilities and their families hope, opportunity and purpose. We love serving our participants every day, and the life of our community is better because we know that every life deserves good days.
Please join us Monday morning.
We would be honored by your presence and would love to show you the good work that is going on in your community.
Editor’s note: Ms. Gray is the director of advancement at STARS