For the most part people in our area think of STAR Inc. as what they used to be, STAR Workshop, that thought no longer holds true. STAR Inc. is so much more to that when it comes to helping adults with developmental disabilities in our community.
STAR Inc. has been around for a long time, but for the past couple of years, they have kind of separated from the county board, they have always been separate but they wanted to get the message out to the community, according to Kelly Hunter the CEO of STAR Inc. since 2001. They have their own board and are a 501C-3 and have been since 1972. Currently, the board president is Charlie Kirby and the vice president John Burke, and it is a nine-member board. Hunter says, “We continue to do business as we always have, it’s just at one point for legal purposes, we were considered under the county board, even though we were separate. No one knew how to explain it. As a result, all sheltered workshops, I think by 2021 or 2022, are to not be a part of their county board.”
STAR INC. provides several different services to adults with developmental disabilities, rehabilitation services, community employment services and transportation services. Hunter said, “Over the years, we’ve changed but when I first started here in 2001 we had six employees, now we have 50. What that means is we are providing a bunch more services to individuals, there was a need in the community and we have been helping fill that need because we are just providing so many more services now than we were 10 or 20 years ago.”
Hunter continued, “Our revenue comes from two sources it comes from waiver dollars and private contracts. For example, Scioto DD employees us to do all their janitorial services, all their lawn care services. We have over 200 lawn care contracts. We go out and mow at businesses, ODOT has us do the rest areas in three counties and things like that. We serve 150 individuals and their families.”
He added, “One of the areas that we have really expanded in the past two years is transportation services when we originally started doing transportation services, we had two vehicles and two part-time people doing it, now we have 12 vehicles with three full-time and a bunch of part-time that do it. What that means is that individuals are coming and going doing things in the community much more than they did in the past. This is as he says, kind of the mandate for the State Department of Disabilities, people get to live the kind of lives that they want to lead, they want to be just like everyone else and go out and do what they want to do.”
Elizabeth Porter, STAR Program Manager since 2015 and has been with STAR since 2013 said, “Through our adult day services, we have two activity groups, we have our Impact team, that’s our volunteer team that goes out in the community, they get out almost every day and do a volunteer activity. We also have a Community Connections group that’s kind of like our food, fun, and shopping group as they like to call themselves. They go to different events in the community. They go in the county and out of the county, they go to Ashland Mall, the Newport Aquarium, the zoo. Staff does go with them and sometimes family members will go too. They are always staffed with the staff here. Sometimes it’s day hours, but it also includes evening and weekend hours.”
Hunter added, “We’ll do sporting events, like Red’s games, Bengals’ games, and we’ll do high school games too.”
Porter said, “A lot of people still think we’re just Monday-Friday 8:30-3:00 and that’s all we offer, but it’s a lot different. Right now, we provide transportation in evenings for people to work, plus different activities in the community in the evenings and weekends.”
Hunter said, “We provide transportation basically seven days a week to and from work. Again, if there is a need, we try to meet it. Transportation obviously in a rural county like ours, it’s still one of the biggest barriers.” STAR now has their own vehicles, they are not yellow school busses, they are not with kids, that is one of the differences now.
He summed it up, “The key of the whole thing is the fundamental building block is the choice of the individual, where before a lot of times there was just one option.”
Most of the individuals at STAR Inc. are about split in half for their residence about half stay with their families and the other half may be in a group home situation. Most of them do not live alone, according to both Hunter and Porter.
Hunter said, “There’s been a lot of headway in that area too in the last 20 years, allowing them to live as individuals.” The ages have a huge range as their youngest is 19 and their oldest is 84.
Porter said that is why they like to offer as much as they possibly can. She wanted to stress that STAR Inc. is not a workshop anymore, however, they do have activities that are done there like art and woodworking, but have so many going out in the community to work.
Hunter wanted to make sure to thank the Scioto County Commissioners and the Scioto County Developmental Disabilities for all they do to support them at STAR Inc. STAR Inc. is doing things to improve the lives of those who really want to contribute to the community by working instead of not doing anything positive in their lives.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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