Camp Courageous is the best!

jordan at campThis summer during the last week of July, I went to Camp Courageous.  Camp Courageous is in Monticello, Iowa and is for people with disabilities.  I left to go to Camp on my 24th birthday, which is on July 26th and I came back on July 30th.  I was in Group One with four other girls and five counselors.  I got to go swimming, camp out in a tent overnight, do arts & crafts, Super Zip, Burma Bridge, and much more fun things.  Going to Camp Courageous in the summer for a week is the highlight of it.  My week at camp during the summer is the best week of my entire life!!!  I look forward to going to Camp Courageous every summer.  By Jordan N.

I like to watch basketball and hockey!

georgia flowerI am Georgia.  I am 57 years old.  I live with my sister, Cheryl and we just moved to Jesup.  My other sister is JoAnn and she lives over off of Hackett and my other sister is Donna and she lives in Jesup.  I have lots of nieces and nephews and I like to go to their basketball games.  I am a Don Bosco fan!  I went to River Hills School and my favorite color is red.

I like to watch movies.  I like movies.  My favorite movie is (shhhh….) “Magic Mike!”  I like to eat at Applebee’s and I always order chicken strips, French fries and Diet Pepsi.

In October I am going to go to the hockey game.  I like basketball and hockey games.  I am good at exercise and I go to the YMCA and on Friday, I walked at Young Arena.  I like to ride my bike, but I stay on the sidewalk to be safe.

Cheryl and I get groceries in Independence at Fareway.  I help by dusting my room.  Sometimes Cheryl cooks, but sometimes I cook.  I can cook eggs and stuff and I make cookies.

I like to do the  Special Olympics:  race walking, the relay, softball throw, and basketball skills.  Sometimes I go bowling.  I was in North Star’s play.  I was a flower in “The Jungle Book.”

Jaws & Frozen are my favorite movies!

sheri lundI am Sheri.  I am 38 and next month I will be 39.  I went to school, but that’s in the past.  I live in LaPorte City with Mom & Dad.  I have one sister, Angela and she is a lawyer in Illinois – she has two dogs and a bearded dragon lizard named “Puff” that she feeds crickets and meal worms.  I have a brother and his name is Eric Lund.  My sister-in-law is Nicki.  They live outside Des Moines, by Ankeny.  My nieces and nephews are Sophia, Grace, Oliver, Ben and Parker.

My bedroom is down the basement on the left hand side.  I have a “Frozen” picture poster in my room.  It is a picture of Elsa – her sister’s name is Anna.  I have “Frozen” shoes and for my birthday I am going to get a “Frozen” backpack and on my birthday my grandma is coming and Grandpa Lund and I am going to have a “Frozen” cake.

I also like scary movies like Jaws I, II, III and even Jaws IV.  I like to watch NCIS, Bay Watch, Criminal Minds, and Big Bang Theory on T.V.  I dress myself and brush my teeth every day!

Tom is my boyfriend and sometimes we go out for breakfast or out for lunch. Yesterday I went to Olive Garden with my grandma and I had ravioli and garlic bread sticks.

For breakfast I like microwavable 3-cheese omelets and French toast that you can put in the toaster.  My nephews like French toast and Toaster Strudel and my mom likes Toaster Strudel sometimes.  I like to go the YMCA and ride the exercise bike.  I was in “The Jungle Book.”

I like living in my own apartment!

Mike DI am Mike.  I was born on March 1st in Waterloo.  I went to River Hills School.  I live in an apartment near Family Video.  My favorite colors are blue and red.  I live by myself and I really like it – it is a lot better than when I had to live in a group home.  My North Star staff is much more laid back and good.  I like the staff a lot.

At home I do all of my own cleaning.  I dust, vacuum and clean my bedroom and the bathroom.  I am not allowed to use the stove, but I can use the microwave for T.V. dinners and stuff.  Kim said you can’t cook French fries in the microwave, though.  The T.V. dinners I like are spaghetti and the mashed potato, Salisbury steak, with a little corn isn’t too bad.  My favorite foods are lasagna and spaghetti – small portions.

I like to relax and drink cold water.  I am taking it easy on O.J. and cola.  I am watching the sugar – you know, it’s about moderation.  I heard that!

At home, I watch T.V. – I am getting better at not walking around and pacing, but actually sit down to watch.  I like Law & Order and NCIS.

My staff, Kim, takes me shopping – I don’t go alone.  Too dangerous.  Kim goes with me for groceries.  Kim got me vegetables; I like raw carrots, broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower.  I like corn, but there is sugar in corn.

I like to exercise on my bike – I wish that exercise could get rid of the diabetes, but it probably won’t.  On Tuesday and Thursday I go to the mall with my friend Todd (it isn’t fair to make him go by himself).  We walk around and look at stuff.  At the mall, I like these big blankets that they have hanging up with cartoons on them.  There is one that is for ladies’ breast cancer – I think a man could buy one too, though.  My favorite cartoons are Scooby Doo, but I like the Smurfs and Superman, too.

I like to go to the movies.  It really is fun.  Comedy is my favorite.  It is better than scary – you know that it isn’t real – it is just a movie, but still…  Comedy is best.

North Star is special to me.

david searcyNorth Star has been very special for me through out the years I’ve been here.  They taught me how to be a better person by being helpful to people.  I can relate to the staff and being supportive.  Some of the jobs that I worked on are: Hangers, Phantom, O-ring, candyman, cardboard, phones, material handler, dishes, serve lunch, McKenna, news-letter, yellow caps, engineer products, I also worked at Hawkeye cleaning the yard, and working at Phantom, janitorial, skills, and safety jobs, milk run job.  The staff here have been very supportive and helping me get a job out in the community.  My behavior have been better since I came to North Star.                                                                                Written By:  David S.

(*note:  David is part of North Star’s Employment Services program, in which people with disabilities learn the job skills necessary to obtain competitive employment in the community.  Employees work Monday through Friday doing a variety of jobs contracted from local businesses, earning a paycheck.)

I was an elephant in “The Jungle Book”

I am Crissy and I am 24.  I went to West High School where North Star did a Variety Show.  I am an only child.

image by Dan Phillips Photography - Cedar Falls, Iowa

Me in my elephant costume

My mom lives in downtown Waterloo.  My uncle just moved to Fayette, so now we don’t see him much.  Not very long ago, my cousin had a baby boy only six days after her birthday (her birthday is the 25th and he was born on the 31st).  She was going to bring him to the play, but then she decided she didn’t want to deal with it.

I live in a house in Waterloo, not very far from Wal-Mart.  We just got all new staff, but that’s okay because one of them used to work with me at West High.  I live with Sandra, Jackie and Juli.  Sometimes we all go to the mall.  I pretty much end up doing all the chores and I help with Jackie and Juli.  When I get to go shopping for food and stuff, my staff stays by the doors and I get to go around by myself.  One thing I like is Special K bars.  I used to buy ice cream, but now I don’t – my roommates kept begging me for it and I am just not doing that anymore.

I watch anything on T.V.  We used to go to karaoke, but we don’t get to do that anymore.  Sometimes when me and my roommates get enough money we all go to Doughy Joey’s.  It used to be in Waterloo, but now we have to go clear to Cedar Falls.  We just get one big pizza, half-and-half.  I just drink water.

I get to ride the city bus around the community all by myself.  I ride it and learn how to get places.  I actually learned to take the bus to Mike’s house – it’s a pretty long way.  Mike is my boyfriend.

I like to come to North Star.  I like Day Hab the best.  I like to make pictures on plastic canvas.  I am making a heart that says, “angel” in the middle.  I am going to give it to Juli because she likes angels.

I was just in the play “The Jungle Book,” I got to be an elephant.  My back hurt, but I did it.  I didn’t think I could, but I did!  Sometimes my back hurts.  It doesn’t right now, but it might later…

Dad, I remember when…



larry at the park


Ron - headshot







In honor of Father’s Day, some of the men and women who attend the day program at North Star’s HIP recently sat down to share some stories about their fathers.

Larry:  “Dad worked for the Rock Island Railroad.  He was a hard worker and always stayed by mom’s side.  I miss him.”

Sarah:  “Almost every weekend we went camping and fishing with friends and their kids.  Dad did the cooking on the Weber grill.”

Bob (aka “Bebo”):  “Dad put on a glove and played catch with me and my siblings.  I remember living in Detroit and fishing on the Detroit River and Lake Erie.”

Dana:  “I remember my grandfather, the closest father figure in my life.  He would take me on vacation to Pierre, South Dakota and camping at Lake Rathbun.”

Nic:  “I used to hunt and fish with my step-dad.  We would hunt for pheasant, deer, coon, and quail and go fishing on the Wapsie.”

Eugene:  “My father was a hard worker that took care of his family.  Dad was high in the ranks of the Knights of Columbus.”

Smitty:  “Dad made wooden toys and crafts for people.  I golfed and fished with him.  I also remember once when I was a teenager, my dad asked me for a cigarette.”

David:  “My father was a “buck” Sergeant in the Marine Corps.  He made you toe the line.  He played pool at a bar in town, and we played dodge ball a lot.  My family lived at Grandpa & Grandma’s farm.”

Bruce:  “My dad was a farmer and he taught me the ropes of farming.  When I was a kid, I thought my dad was mean, but when I grew up I realized he wasn’t mean.  He was a good provider that had to take care of his 10 kids.”

Steve: “We lived on a farm by Frederika.  We went camping and fishing when I was a kid.  Dad was a toy salesman and would take me to work.  We got to keep the broken toys.  He also took me to work at the golf course and I dove into the ponds to search for golf balls.”

Becca:  “I remember my dad taking me to Applebee’s and shopping for cheerleading shoes.  Dad won a lot of money in the lottery and he lives in a big house and has a new car.  He took me fishing when I was a kid.”

Dianne:  “We went fishing and had picnics at the Mitchell sandpits here in town.”

Kevin:  “We went fishing in a boat on the Raccoon River in Des Moines.”

Ron:  “I went with Dad on his milk route.  He worked for the Waverly Creamery.  When Dad drove I would wake him up if he dozed off.  One Christmas my dad bought me a special bicycle – an English Racer.  I miss my dad a lot.”

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all of the dad’s out there!!

“Look for the Bare Necessities!”

Here at North Star, it’s “all hands on deck” as we are busy getting ready for our musical, which is four weeks from tomorrow!  Instead of the usual post, this time I am talking a little about our special inclusive community theatre project.

Lee Robinson & Mike Roskamp prepare for their roles as Tailorbirds!

Lee Robinson & Mike Roskamp prepare for their roles as Tailorbirds!

On Wednesday, June 3rd at 7:00 p.m. the stage at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa will come alive with the wild jungle antics of Mowgli, Baloo, and the rest of the characters of one of Disney’s enduring favorites, “The Jungle Book.”

North Star Community Services’ inclusive community theatre production of “The Jungle Book” is the fifth musical for the agency.  Directed by Mr. Greg Holt, the show features an ensemble cast of actors with a wide range of abilities, including 80 participants from North Star.

The play is based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1893 collection of short stories set in the heart of the Indian jungle and Walt Disney’s 1967 animated film.

Leading the cast is Tristan Holt as Mowgli, the young, spunky orphan boy who is raised by a family of wolves; Brian John McCarty as Bagheera, the wise black panther; Chelsey Linza as Baloo, the carefree, fun-loving bear; Chad Hackenmiller as King Louie, an ambitious, scheming orangutan; Russell Hamilton as Shere Khan, a man-eating Bengal tiger and the crafty, dangerous, arch-villain; and Kaa, the hungry, s-s-s-slithering Indian python played by Kylie Paton and the “Coils,” (Luke George, Blaine Johnson, Wendy Moore, LaShunda Wilson, and Wendy Moore).  Carrie Rhode is playing the beautiful young village girl, Shanti.  A complete cast list will be available on North Star’s website,

Production coordinator for this show is Haley Krall and the sets are being created in a collaborative effort led by Kate Fineran and Mr. Bill Close.  Costumes are being designed and sewn by Diane Fineran and Haley Krall.  Musical direction is being led by Chelsey Linza, Amanda Spencer, and Chad Hackenmiller.

North Star has some wonderful supporters and sponsors for this theatrical production.  Special thanks for grants from the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, the Iowa Arts Council (a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts), the U.S. Bank Foundation, Teen Trust (a program of the Community Foundation of NEIA), and Lincoln Savings Bank Foundation.  We are so grateful for the generosity of these sponsors:  Veridian Credit Union, Quota Club of Waterloo, Ms. Jean M. Trainor, HGS (Hinduja Global Solutions), Designer Genes Down Syndrome Group, Joint Volunteer’s Arc of Cedar Valley, AHTS Architects, Aspro, Inc., Greenwood Pharmacy and Compounding Center, Magee Construction Company, The Pump Haus Pub & Grill, and Standard Golf Company. Special thanks also to Memory Makers’ Photography by Eileen Crotty and Pioneer Graphics.

North Star’s inclusive community theatre projects were first created in 2008 as a special opportunity for people with disabilities and non-disabled volunteers to learn and work together in a collaborative effort to create amazing costumes, wonderful sets and props, and produce a fantastic, full-scale musical production for the public.  The project allows participants to use the process as a meaningful form of personal expression and growth, as well as provide a valuable life experience – promoting teamwork, responsibility, collaboration, leadership, and communication skills.  The project creates a community presence, builds relationships, and serves as an inclusive experience for the community as a whole.  And, besides that, it’s really fun!

For more information, visit North Star’s website:

I like Special Olympics!

larry headshotI am Larry M.  I am 45 and my birthday is in October.  I grew up with a really big family – I had about 6 brothers and 7 sisters!  I live in Waterloo with my roommates – Michael, David & Leroy.  We have lived together a long time.  We like to watch “Full House” on T.V.  I have chores like vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, and doing laundry.  Staff helps me cook things like hamburgers, cheeseburgers and pizza.

All colors are my favorite.  I really like to go out to eat and my favorites are the O.P. and also Pizza Ranch (I like the pizza and salad).  I drink diet pop.

I like to be in the plays at North Star.  For “Jungle Book” I am going to be a tree.  For “Peter Pan” I was an Indian.  The best part of the plays is the singing.

One of my very favorite things is Special Olympics.  It makes me proud.   I do swimming and basketball.

I like to play bingo!

twilaI am Twila J.  I am 49 and will be 50 in October – I like to go to Godfather’s Pizza for my birthday.  I live in Cedar Falls with my roommates and my staff:  Becky, Donna and Marilyn.  My mom lives in Parkersburg but my dad passed away.  I have four brothers – Ron, Dale, Troy, Lugene and one sister named Linda.   I have a lot of nieces and nephews.  I got a new nephew.  His name is Sam and I will get to hold him at Easter.  On Easter I will go to Parkersburg to see my family.

I went to River Hills School until I graduated.  My mom gave me flowers.  I like to go to North Star.  I like to be in the play and this time I am going to be a tree!  My family will come to see me.

On the weekend I go to Hy-Vee.  I buy groceries and stuff.  Sometimes I get my boyfriend sugar-free candy.  My favorite pop is caffeine-free diet Coke.  I like to have nice fingernails – today they are pink.  I like to dress nice and I like to have matching socks – I have a lot of socks!

At home I have chores.  I know how to cook and I like to make meatloaf.  (Twila’s boyfriend Gary relates that Twila cooks a “really good meatloaf!”). I like to walk around and play bingo.