Larry Morelli (center) with Norwalkers Artie St. Armand and Dean Tomasi from STAR. (contributed photo)
STAR Program Specialist Larry Morelli is retiring from STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way after 26 years of service to the community helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. “Working at STAR has made me a better man,” he said in an interview about his retirement. Larry’s public retirement party and celebration will be held at STAR at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 20. Families and agency colleagues who have worked with Larry through the years are invited to attend.
Morelli remembers interviewing for his position at STAR in 1989. “Back then, the Birth-to-Three program was held in New Canaan at St. Mark’s Church. I applied for a program specialist position and remember meeting Katie Banzhaf, Executive Director at STAR. We walked in the garden. Morelli explains that he applied to STAR back in 1989 upon the encouragement of his friend, Tim Inwood. They’d met previously at Noroton School, and had worked together at the Lower Fairfield County Regional Center. “I’ve always worked with Tim,” he explained. “He is my mentor, role model and boss. He is like my brother. It (work) can’t get any better than that.” Larry pauses. “The most difficult thing about this (retirement) is leaving my friends—the people I work with and work for—like Katie and Tim and so many others--they are my friends.”
Larry Morelli with Stephen Denittis of Norwalk. (contributed photo)
The feeling is reciprocated. Morelli is beloved at STAR. He is recognized for his success in working with the most challenging individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and/or turning around the most difficult situations. Larry was instrumental in helping individuals transition from Mansfield Training School (in the late 80’s) and most recently, Southbury Training School. He helped many others transition from their family home to a new home through STAR. “I have to say that I really couldn’t choose a “special” client or colleague, if I had to answer a question about which ones were my favorites. There have been so many special clients and staff; and sometimes the folks who are the most difficult are the ones we become most attached to.”
Katie Banzhaf, Executive Director of STAR, said, “STAR is proud to have a family of dedicated employees like Larry, many of whom have celebrated their 20, 25, and even 30-year anniversaries! We find that the professional attachment for the people we serve, and the personal passion for the mission to improve the lives and opportunities for each of these individuals is the common glue that keeps us together and makes each of our days rewarding. Larry’s impact on so many at STAR, both the staff he trained in PMT, and the residents and clients he supported, will be remembered for a long time.”
Bill Casale, Tim Inwood and Larry Morelli of STAR staff. (contributed photo)
Morelli commented on his tenure: “This is a field (developmental disabilities) that has progressed so much, and it continues to change. Things just keep getting better as people become more aware.”
To attend the retirement celebration for Larry Morelli, please RSVP to Mel Giuliani at (203) 846-9581 x303. The party is free of charge and will be located at STAR Center, 182 Wolfpit Avenue, Norwalk, CT at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 20th.
STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not–for-profit organization established in 1952 to serve 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, They inform and encourage the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals. For more information about STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way please visit their website www.starct.org. For more information about STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way, visit www.starct.org .