On Wednesday January 8, STAR, Inc. Lighting the Way… hosted a spirited kickoff event for their upcoming Martin Luther King Day of Service 2020 at STAR Headquarters, 182 Wolfpit Avenue, Norwalk. STAR recently received a $10,000 grant from The Arc-US and Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to create a collaborative program between STAR and community partners, Open Doors and Person-to-Person, to address local food insecurity and hunger. This new STAR initiative will honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King on this 25th Anniversary of the MLK Day of Service with the intention of making it a sustainable effort and mindset that lasts 24-7-365. STAR Executive Director Katie Banzhaf said, “We were pleased to receive this generous grant from The Arc US and CNCS to help launch what we plan to be an ongoing program of community outreach that includes people with disabilities assisting to help resolve a local need. STAR participants who are typically on the receiving end of community goodwill will be given a chance to pay it forward and make a meaningful impact.”
The kick-off event brought together local dignitaries and volunteers from all backgrounds and abilities in our community to learn more about providing food to those in our community that experience hunger and to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and belief that, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” STAR, along with their community partners, Open Doors and Person-to-Person, shared the vision for this neighborhood project. Among the local dignitaries attending the ceremony were State Senator Bob Duff and Representatives Lucy Dathan, Anne Hughes, Jonathan Steinberg and Steve Meskers. Rev. Dr. Jeffrey D. Ingraham from Calvary Baptist Church greeted the crowd with inspiration drawn from his 30 years of service and connection to STAR as well reflecting on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and his lessons. Nancy Coughlin, CEO of Person to Person, and Nancy Meany, Vice President from the Open Doors Board of Directors informed the crowd of their agencies’ roles in the community and excitement over the new collaborative project.
The Martin Luther King Day Service 2020 project will address food insecurity in our community and, in the months ahead, volunteers will work alongside STAR clients to prepare, deliver and serve hot meals to Open Doors and collect non-perishable food items to be delivered to Person-to-Person. Nancy Coughlin, CEO of Person-to-Person expressed, “We are excited to build on our partnership with STAR, whose clients have been volunteering with P2P for over ten years. In the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy, which was the inspiration for the founding of P2P, we believe that service provides opportunities for meaning and purpose. This initiative will also help to meet the needs of those in our community who are dealing with hunger and food insecurity.”
Local businesses such as Priceline, Palmer’s Market, Diageo, BMW Darien, Volvo of Westport, Bankwell, Groove, Tracy Locke, New Canaan YMCA, Charkit, CVS and Fairfield County Bank have already signed up to host food collection receptacles and STAR anticipates another dozen sites to be added. “We’re so thankful that we’re able to expand our partnership with the incredible team at STAR, Inc. and their list of community partners to provide even more support for people dealing with hunger in our community,” said Nancy Meany, Vice President of the Open Doors Board of Directors.
If you are interested in volunteering to help prepare meals be packaged and delivered to Open Doors once a month or to assist with the collection, packing and delivery of non-perishable food to Person-to-Person and other opportunities at STAR please contact Jennifer Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Person-to-Person, Inc. was established in 1968 to provide low-income individuals and families living in Lower Fairfield County with basic emergency services. A community-supported agency, Person-to-Person is committed to providing individuals and families with assistance for basic needs to overcome daily challenges and access to resources to improve their lives. With a vision of educated, financially stable, and hunger-free homes for all, programs include food and clothing assistance, emergency financial assistance, and Camperships and Scholarships. With locations in Darien and Norwalk, and a mobile food pantry in Stamford, the Person-to-Person service area includes Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. More information may be found on the web at www.p2phelps.org
Open Doors is a social service organization and shelter in Norwalk that has been providing support for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness since 1983. These resources include critical needs like food, clothing, case management, job training and continuing education, and access to health services as well as affordable and supportive housing and emergency shelter. For more information, please visit http://www.opendoorshelter.org/ .
STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not–for-profit organization established in 1952 to serve individuals of all ages who are impacted by intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in Fairfield County, 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. STAR informs and encourages the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals. STAR is the only affiliated chapter of The Arc in Fairfield County. The Arc is an advocacy and informational agency benefitting people with intellectual disabilities on state and national levels. For more information about STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way please visit www.starct.org.
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