Norwalk resident Lorraine Santo retires from STAR (contributed photo)
After over 30 years of service with STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way, a local non-profit agency serving people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities in Mid- Fairfield County since 1952, Norwalk resident Lorraine Santo has retired from her position in Accounts Payable.
Ms. Santo started part-time doing STAR’s payroll in 1982 and has served in several capacities at STAR since then including accounts payable. She initially applied to STAR because her son had started kindergarten and friends Rose Gravante and Irene Curtin, both previous STAR employees, suggested she apply for a job while he was at school. Later, she extended her hours.
Santo says she left STAR for a brief period of about three years in 1996; but she then returned in 1999 and has worked with STAR ever since. “It’s a wonderful place to work. Every day you have positive experiences – someone will tell you how pleased they are to see you, how fond of you they are—everyone is so loving. My favorite thing about working there has been the people.”
Santo says she’s seen STAR evolve from a workshop that made lamps for LeDuc Company into a multi-service organization, moving people into jobs, housing and activities in the community. “When I started working at STAR, there were no residential group homes.” As of 2015, STAR owns and/or manages 10 group homes and 12 shared living facilities (apartments or condominiums) plus works with individuals in their own homes via Supportive Living and Family Support programs. STAR also now offers the Birth to 3 Program through STAR Rubino Family Center for parents of babies and young children with intellectual disabilities. “That program is amazing,” says Ms. Santo. “It makes a huge difference.”
Katie Banzhaf, Executive Director of STAR said, “Lorraine has always been an important part of the STAR family. She is very professional, and a dear friend. We are going to miss her very much.”
STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way serves individuals of all ages who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, 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. They inform and encourage the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals. STAR serves over 600 individuals from birth through their senior years in Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, Westport and Weston. For more information about STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way visit their website www.starct.org.