Star, Inc. Lighting the Way...
STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not–for-profit organization serving individuals of all ages who have Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD), as well as providing support services to their families in Fairfield County since 1952. We create opportunities for individuals to live full lives with independence, freedom of choice and personal growth by providing support, services and advocacy. We inform and encourage the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals. Our goal is the inclusion of all individuals with disabilities in their community. www.starct.org
Beginning with infants and children with special needs, STAR provides early intervention services in the home, day care center or other community settings. At the age of three,STAR’s children with special needs are transitioned into their local school districts and home school. Family support is continued through assistance with locating and supporting summer camp programs, after school programs, sibling support, behavioral intervention and advocacy. STAR has an active Sibshops Program for siblings of children with I/DD as well as a weekly Sports Buddies Program that matches young participants with I/DD with volunteer buddies and coaches for a regular program of athletic training, team building, and self-confidence enhancement. When young adults with developmental disabilities approach graduation from high school, STAR again becomes actively involved by providing transition services, assessment and job training which lead to employment. This employment allows individuals to live more independently as they become part of a company, earning wages and benefits and making new friends. In STAR’s recreation and leisure program, individuals receive assistance with their physical, emotional, and social development. STAR supports adults in their own homes or apartments by providing housing, training, supervision and support.
In Rounds One and Two, STAR was the recipient of the Governor’s NGP
funding for three impactful programs that have been completed:
Purchase 14 Vehicles to Replace Aged Fleet for Safety, Reliability & Fuel Efficiency.
The PURPOSE of this project was to provide safe, reliable, and fuel-efficient transportation to the people we serve. Our aged fleet of 35 vehicles had 12 models that were 10 years old or older, with mileage ranging from 80,000 to 144,000 miles. Repair costs for these vehicles averaged over $13000 annually in aggregate, or over $1100 individually. The average mileage for the aged fleet was less than 12 mpg. Vehicles are used approximately 9,200 miles per year on average.
Safety and Fuel Efficiency were the two
preeminent reasons for this project. Replacement of these aged vehicles that
were near the end of their effective lives with new models reaped immediate
positive effects to our transportation system. The new models get an average of
over 19mpg city and 28 mpg highway or save 37% in fuel costs. Additionally, of paramount importance is
the safety of the people we serve, especially those who have limited mobility
or are in wheelchairs. The new vehicles included three equipped with turning
seats to accommodate those with wheelchairs. Standard vehicle safety features
in new vehicles that were absent in the portion of the fleet being replaced
included: ABS antilock brakes, daytime running lights, active head restraints,
front and side airbags, electronic brake distribution, tire pressure monitoring,
forward collision warning system, rear backup cameras.
Safe, reliable, and fuel efficient transportation is a cornerstone of all STAR programs and services. Our ability to provide access to our programs and transportation support for those in competitive employment, community outreach programs, or other community experiences is essential to our ability to thrive and enhance our services. Any disruption of this service due to breakdowns, safety issues, or other reliability/cost factors would have a severe impact on our programs serving people with disabilities in our communities. We are thankful for this impactful grant funding.
Install Fire Sprinkler System at STAR Center
Thanks to the Governor’s NGP STAR was able to install a new fire sprinkler system to protect the people and facilities at STAR's headquarters and site of our Adult Day Programs at 182 Wolfpit Avenue, Norwalk, CT. The building, constructed in 1972, is used daily by over 160 staff and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as the key administration center, transportation hub for adult programs and supported employment, and center for adult day programs, volunteer activities, and workshop. The lack of any current sprinkler system had been identified as a critical need to ensure the safety of our people and to protect our property, files, and assets. This was largely a life-safety and property protection issue for the benefit of our aging participant base and the number of people with limited or no self-mobility who are in wheelchairs and would require staff assistance to exit in case of emergencies.
The aged building was grandfathered and non-compliant with current building practices and fire safety standards that would be required of new construction. In addition to the tremendous loss of life risk inherent in a devastating fire, there is the large loss of services and program curtailment that might result from even the smallest fire where the incident cannot be quickly controlled and isolated in the building. With the great number we serve daily, this loss of programs would cause the organization and the people we serve a severe hardship on even a temporary basis and would be most detrimental to our operations. In addition to the life safety and property protection elements, this new sprinkler system would also contribute to possible cost savings in our negotiated liability and property insurance premiums that are continually on the rise.
The project included the design and installation of a hydraulically calculated wet pipe fire sprinkler system based on NFPA 13 (National Fire Protection Agency) with proper plans, approvals, and permits. Now that it has been successfully installed, we are also considering consolidation of programs to move our seniors program under the same roof and, thereby, saving rent we pay off site.
Replacement of Computer System Infrastructure for Entire Agency
This project dramatically increased the efficiency of all departments and operations at STAR, Inc. Lighting the Way by replacing an aged, overused, and faltering computer system with one that is suited to our current needs and anticipated future demands. This critical improvement to our infrastructure will be the catalyst to positive improvements in all aspects of the organization. The program included the essential hardware components for a fully integrated informational system coupled with software improvements to our donor database management and electronic medical recordkeeping capabilities.
Grateful again to the Governor’s NGP, we know that this project is increasing the efficiency, security, reliability, network capabilities, database and medical record management, and affords opportunities for future growth in all departments. Additionally, faster processing time and improved communications network allows our staff to have more time directly serving our participants and clients who have developmental disabilities