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STAR In Norwalk Honors Mayor Along With Businesses, Volunteers, Families

Katie Banzhaf of STAR with Jamie Taylor, left, a member of STAR, and Assaf Ben-Atar, Norwalker and President of STAR Board.
Katie Banzhaf of STAR with Jamie Taylor, left, a member of STAR, and Assaf Ben-Atar, Norwalker and President of STAR Board. Photo Credit: Megan Johnson
Members of Diageo, pictured with Peter Saverine of STAR, left, were awarded for their volunteerism and service.
Members of Diageo, pictured with Peter Saverine of STAR, left, were awarded for their volunteerism and service. Photo Credit: Megan Johnson
Mayor Harry Rilling and his wife, Lucia, receive Humanitarians of the Year Award from STAR.
Mayor Harry Rilling and his wife, Lucia, receive Humanitarians of the Year Award from STAR. Photo Credit: Megan Johnson
Norwalkers Kate and Justin Bagnati received the Parents of the Year Award.
Norwalkers Kate and Justin Bagnati received the Parents of the Year Award. Photo Credit: Megan Johnson
Hitachi Capital Vice President Jim Giamo accepts Community Service Award on behalf of Hitachi Volunteers from Megan Johnson of STAR.
Hitachi Capital Vice President Jim Giamo accepts Community Service Award on behalf of Hitachi Volunteers from Megan Johnson of STAR. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. -- STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way in Norwalk recently hosted its 64th Annual Meeting and Recognition Awards to elect new and returning board members and recognize the outstanding achievements of community partners, supporters, staff and clients from the previous year.

Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff and State Rep. Gail Lavielle attended the event and spoke during the program. STAR’s Rubberband performed.

Those nominated and voted to the STAR board of directors were Barry Bosworth and Alison Jacobson of Wilton, Kate Bagnati of Norwalk, John Danaher of Wilton, Joanna Galvin of New Canaan, Bob Marchesi and John Denton of Fairfield, and Joe Muro of Norwalk.

Norwalk residents who were recognized at the meeting were the Mayor Rilling and his wife, Lucia Rilling, and Kate and Justin Bagnati.

The Rillings received the Humanitarians of the Year Award for their support of the I/DD population to make city buildings wheelchair-accessible and their commitment to supporting so many programs and activities for the disabled.

The Bagnatis received the Anne O’Callaghan Parents of the Year Award for their tireless work supporting the Rubino Family Center, creating networking groups and activities for families, volunteering for and serving on committees.

Norwalk-based company Hitachi Capital America received the Community Volunteers of the Year Award for its generous volunteer service and support, improving two group homes and the STAR Center, as well as donating four iPads for client use and training.

Diageo of Norwalk received the Corporate Volunteers of the Year Award for its transformation of the STAR Center property, providing more than 100 volunteers and supplies to build wheelchair-accessible pathways, indoor and outdoor gardens in the front, sides, rear and atrium of the building, building a deck in the back and providing a huge shed, pavers, mulch, new plants, pots and patio furniture and benches for STAR clients to enjoy and use.

Darien residents who were recognized at the meeting were Katrine Ryan and Kevin Gallagher. Ryan, a college student at Elon University, produced a professional-quality video that tells the stories of STAR clients with intellectual disabilities at their jobs.

Gallagher, a student at Fairfield Prep, received the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award and was recognized for his service and commitment as a volunteer with STAR’s recreation programs and the 12-week Theater of STARs program.

Westport resident Debra Rudolf, a STAR client, was awarded the Jeannette Shivers Award for her kindness and consideration of other STAR residents, colleagues and staff.

Redding resident Lynn Monk was awarded the STAR Heroes Award for her extraordinary employment performance, positive attitude and support as a nurse and valuable employee of STAR and friend to STAR clients, acting with professionalism and kindness during medical crises.

Bridgeport resident Shazline Khan, a student at Bridgeport Military Academy, was presented the Jo Mercede Volunteer of the Year Award for her long-term support and service to STAR’s Day Programs and Activities.

STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not-for-profit organization serving individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities, as well as providing support services to their families.

Click here to learn more about the organization.

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