By Katy Kelewae, Class 22
STARS, Development Associate & Volunteer Coordinator
Looking at a present situation and deciding to take a leadership role in wherever your passion lies may seem daunting task. It is often hard, if not impossible, to visualize what the end result may look like. I am fortunate enough to know one amazing individual who took her passion from the very starting point to what is today the non-profit, Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services or STARS.
Mary King had just moved to Scottsdale, in 1973 and was working part time in the City Manager’s office. She was given the task of researching what programs and services were available to adults with intellectual disabilities in the Scottsdale area. She found none. With the support of Scottsdale elected officials, including Mayor Herb Drinkwater, Mary began to pull together other passionate individuals and groups who all wanted the same result – employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities.
For the past 38 years, Mary has stayed by STARS’ side through many changes including adopting the name STARS, the opening of new facilities and the closing of others. If asked in 1973 if she thought one project at her part time job would change the lives of so many people, she probably would have said “no.” Mary saw an underserved population, knew that something had to be done to make their lives better, and kept going by taking it one day, task, challenge at a time. Today, STARS serves 180 adults with intellectual disabilities and their family’s everyday because of her dedication and focus.
Looking into 2011 and beyond, we see others setting a course for the future of STARS, a future that may not be fully realized for years. In 1973 the shift for individuals with disabilities was from institutionalization, to programs and services. Today, the shift is from sheltered employment to full integration into the community. Scottsdale Unified School District took a big step in 2010 towards creating the next phase of services for individuals with intellectual disabilities by partnering with STARS and creating the Cholla Special Needs Community Campus. Companies such as Fry’s and Scottsdale Healthcare are leading the way locally by creating the employment future for adults with disabilities along with STARS and others who continue onward by taking it one day at a time.
One person was able to look ahead and take action, where do you think you can make a difference?