On Friday, January 15, STAR, Inc. Lighting the Way… hosted a spirited zoom kickoff event for their upcoming Martin Luther King Day of Service 2021. STAR recently received a $20,000 grant from The Arc-US and AmeriCorps to create a collaborative program between STAR and community partners, Open Doors Shelter and Person-to-Person, to address local food insecurity and hunger.

This STAR initiative honors the work of Dr. Martin Luther King on the 26th Anniversary of the MLK Day of Service with the intention of making it a sustainable effort and mindset that lasts 24-7-365. STAR Executive Director Katie Banzhaf said, “We were pleased to receive this generous grant again from The Arc US and AmeriCorps to launch an ongoing program of community outreach that includes people with disabilities assisting to help resolve a local need. STAR participants who are typically on the receiving end of community goodwill will be given a chance to pay it forward and make a meaningful impact throughout the year.”
The kick-off event brought together local dignitaries, Senator Haskell, Senator Duff, Representative Thomas, Representative Dathan and Representative Steinberg. The Rev. Dr. Richard Wesley Clarke, Pastor, Bethel AME Norwalk joined representatives from Open Doors Shelter and Person-to-Person, local business owners, STAR board members, STAR participants and their families, and volunteers from all backgrounds and abilities in our community. All were inspired to learn more about providing food to those in our community that experience hunger and to reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy and belief that, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.”

The Martin Luther King Day Service 2021 project will address food insecurity in our community. In the months ahead and subject to regulations under Covid-19, , volunteers will collaborate with STAR clients to prepare, deliver and serve hot meals to Open Doors Shelter and collect non-perishable food items to be delivered to Person-to-Person. The first meals delivered and served over the MLK weekend were prepared by Chef Luis Solis owner of Don Carmelo’s in Norwalk and dessert was prepared by Sweet P Bakery in Norwalk, both regular teachers for STAR’s cooking classes.

Local businesses such as Fairfield County Bank, Priceline, BMW Darien, Bankwell, Groove, Tracy Locke., Palmers Market and Charkit have already signed up to host food collection receptacles and STAR anticipates additional sites to be added.