Since the early 1970s there has been a special place in Scottsdale where all are welcome, can find purpose and can realize a sense of belonging.
No matter color, creed or special circumstance, the Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services effort has become a second home for thousands facing significant cognitive abilities.
But make no mistake, all of those a part of the STARS program are valuable contributors to society.
STARS, which was created in 1973, would not have been created if it weren’t for both landmark legislation emboldened in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the City of Scottsdale finding a way to fulfill that charge.
What started in the early 1970s as a group of Scottsdale employees trying to fill the charge of the Civil Rights Act is now an entity serving hundreds of participants every day.
STARS has two Scottsdale locations, one at 7507 E. Osborn Road while the other is found at 11130 E. Cholla Street, Ste. H-110. Both locations seek to complete the same mission.
“Our programs are designed to help our members and their families in a variety of ways. From skill-building, socializing, physical activities, to first steps into job training, and so many more,” said STARS Community Engagement & Outreach Coordinator Jules Hyde.
“Our programs not only help the member but also help support the family of that member as well.”
Mr. Hyde explains STARS clients come in all ages and from all walks of life --- the program serves folks from 7- to 70-years-old.
“Our youth programs are the first steps into a skills training day program for many of our youth. We serve the transitional needs of this age group with a variety of activity-based, sensory-motor, cognitive, communicative, socially interactive, and behavioral training programs where young individuals gain non-task-related skills and habits that will help them throughout life.”
Changing lives through opportunity is the name of the game at STARS, Mr. Hyde explains.
“STARS’ overall mission is to provide excellent special needs programming to individuals seeking services, that promotes them to attain the highest level of independence possible,” he explained. “We serve persons age 7 to 70. So STARS programs are programs that a member can take advantage of throughout their lifetime.”
Mr. Hyde outlines the No. 1 focus at STARS is making sure those with cognitive disabilities find the right fit in the local economic machine. Everyone, Mr. Hyde contends, has a place and is a valued part of society.
“We believe STARS has been in Scottsdale for 48 years because of that need,” he said.
“Scottsdale families with members that have special needs can depend on STARS to provide top quality service with a passionate knowledgeable staff. We have a proven track record of enriching the lives of the members in our programs again and again. We are there for the entirety of their lives. STARS sees and fills that need every day.”
STARS, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, survives --- and thrives --- through community support, Mr. Hyde points out of common themes facing local charity efforts.
For nearly 60 years, the Scottsdale Charros have been instrumental supporters of those in need and in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.
This current grant year, through The Charro Foundation, the Scottsdale Charros provided STARS with a $20,000 grant to help shoulder costs of the annual summer camp program for young members of the STARS family.
Marc Miller, a Scottsdale Charro, offers his perspective of why STARS is a special effort in The West’s Most Western Town.
“STARS has always had a positive impact to the Scottsdale community by providing a resource for other Scottsdale businesses to complete their distribution process and reduce their overall production costs,” he said as a co-sponsor of the STARS grant application. “Any organization that helps provide job training for those with disabilities is vital to the well being of the individual and their families. It gives them a sense of worth, everyone deserves the chance to be productive members of society. These programs also give their families a sense and strong feeling of hope!”
Mr. Hyde says the summer camps are essential parts of the STARS family experience.
“With the support of the Charro Foundation, STARS has been able to provide over the years the Youth Summer Camps,” he explained. “Summer camp offers a full day of fun activities either at the site or out in the community for children and teens age 7-22 years for eight weeks during the summer.”
Chris Watts, a Charro and serving a term on the STARS board of directors, says the effort of this particular nonprofit transcends employment opportunities.
“STARS provides a home away from home where clients can enjoy social interaction amongst their peers, learn valuable life skills, such as cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene, and enjoy art, music, fitness activities, as well as community outings,” he said.
“Besides offering a supportive environment for their clients, STARS also affords the clients families a break from their routine and the ability to take care of their own needs and responsibilities, while their loved one is participating in one of the numerous programs.”
--- Chris Watts
Mr. Watts says he has seen first-hand how the programs at STARS gives a sense of purpose for those who may need it most.
“The on-site work centers provide clients not just the chance to earn a paycheck, but more importantly provide a sense of purpose and self-satisfaction in a world where those opportunities are very limited for individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities,” he said. “The community-based enclaves or employment opportunities are the ultimate goal for those clients that are capable and desire the opportunity, but it is not just the client that benefits.”
In modern society, everyone has a place, Mr. Watts contends, and at STARS that idea creates an underlying tone of purpose throughout the organization.
“It is important not just for the client, but for society to see individuals actively contributing to society, and accept, and understand that we are all created differently, and having a disability does not mean you are of no value,” he said. “I agreed to be a Charro sponsor because I have been on the STARS board for six years, and have witnessed first hand the amazing impact they have had and continue to have on hundreds of individuals and their families that are facing very difficult circumstances.”
Go to starsaz.org.