I love cars!

IMG_7169I am Courtney.  I was an elephant in North Star’s play, “The Jungle Book.”  I enjoyed that and would do it again next time.  In this picture I am in my costume and make-up.

I was born in Osage, Iowa and I grew up a lot of places like McIntire (kind of by Riceville) and Mona, Iowa and also in Lyle, Minnesota – right on the border of Iowa and Minnesota.  When I was growing up we had a lot of dogs and cats.  My favorite was a Rottweiler that was named Gigolo; he was a big boy and could get a bowling ball in his mouth!  I have four brothers, one is older and three are younger.  My mom lives in Austin, Minnesota.

Now I live in Waterloo in a duplex.  I have a roommate named Rose and also a man that lives in the other part of the duplex.  I have a cat name, Finch and I used to have a betta fish named Larry.  But one day my cat knocked over his bowl.  She just watched him flop around on the floor and when I got home he was just lying on the floor.

I have a job.  I really like it, probably because I really love cars!  I work at Dan Deery Toyota in the detail shop.  Usually I do the vacuuming.  Yesterday I got to detail a 2012 Charger!  And, once I got to detail a 2003 Mustang – that one was pretty souped-up!

At home I like to play video games, like Grand Theft Auto.  I also have 17 racing games and a casino game.  The casino game is really hard.  I watch T.V. – cartoons mostly.  I like the Simpsons.  I have a blu-ray player and I like the Fast & Furious movies.  I have the whole series and #7 comes out this week.  I heard maybe they were going to make a Fast & Furious 8.

We usually do the cleaning on Friday and take turns with the chores.  I do my own grocery shopping – I like to buy ice cream and could probably eat a whole gallon in a week!  My favorite is salted caramel gelato.  I also cook for myself – staff helps Rose cook, because she is like 50!

On Friday, when my boyfriend Lonnie comes over I will make him pizza or spaghetti. We want to get married, maybe in about two years.  Then our dream is to buy a 70” plasma television and build a log cabin in the middle of nowhere.  I am going to have to start saving money!

Some of my other favorites are the Texas Longhorns and the color blue.  I like to listen to all kinds of music.  I build model cars – I like the Chevy Nova.  I can play guitar – I would like lessons, but they are expensive.  I am good at art.  I did take some art lessons and learned how to make pottery.



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.

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.

Enjoy the simple things…

door winner - kate

Winter door mural by North Star staff, Kate Fineran

Greetings!  Today, I asked a group of participants in North Star’s Day Habilitation program in Waterloo what their Christmas wishes are.  I have their answers listed here. What always strikes me as interesting, is how often the wishes of the people we serve here are for simple, everyday things; nothing very expensive or exotic.  We could probably take a lesson from them – we don’t need a bunch of “stuff” to be truly happy.  Happy Holiday’s to you, and may we take the time to appreciate and enjoy the simple pleasures in life!


What we want for Christmas:

  • Kay A. –  iPod
  • Eric B. – new watch with everything on it
  • Michael B. – “Need for Speed”
  • Tony B. – Chicago bears watch, cap and Jay Cutler jersey
  • Jerry C. – music CD, after shave
  • Jessica C. – Hawkeye clothes
  • Jesse D. – new shirt
  • Jane F. – computer and toys
  • Crissy G. – craft supplies
  • Don G. – new Christmas sweater, popcorn, DVD, and Pop-Tarts
  • Luke G. – Wii game, 3DS games, and “Heaven is For Real” DVD
  • Charlie H. – karaoke machine
  • Jeff H. – movies
  • John H. – a big ole’ ham
  • Russell H. – Barnes & Noble Gift Cards
  • Emma H. – socks
  • James Ha. – watch
  • James Ho. – 24 – pack of pop, new hooded sweatshirt
  • Jason J. – “not so much”
  • John J. – East High coat
  • Brock K. – vacuum cleaner
  • Phil K. – “Walker Texas Ranger”
  • Chase L. – movies
  • Jon L. – stuffed dogs
  • Sheri L. –  DVD seasons of “Mama’s Family” and “Diagnosis Murder”
  • Tabitha L. – coat, boots, rings
  • Ben M. – UNI clothes, Wii games
  • Denzel M. – new watch, new dress shirt
  • Dianne M. – CD’s, CD player
  • Richard M. – Johnny Cash CD
  • Wendy M. – Game Boy, Columbia jacket
  • Susan N. – socks, blue jeans, winter coat
  • Mike O. – sweater, tape recorder
  • Amy P. – tablet
  • Kylie P. – a tom cat
  • Carrie R. – stereo
  • Jim R. – new cell phone
  • Lee R. – watch, boots
  • Mike R. – Teddy bear
  • Breyon S. – music, new shoes
  • Caroline S. – paper, beads, markers, stickers
  • Courtney S. – Playstation 2 games
  • Doug S. – Super Bowl game
  • Elizabeth S. – CD, DVD and socks
  • James S. – new t.v., clothes
  • Jeff S. –  Hotwheels, truck, music, DVD, shirt
  • Jeff T. – clothes
  • LaShunda W. – Kindle Fire
  • Pam W. – UNI clothes 
  • Gary We. – shirt, movie
  • Gary Wi. – new jeans, CD’s, winter gloves/hat
  • Arnie Y. – CD’s 
  • Porcha Y. – pajamas

Happy Thanksgiving!

One year ago we launched this blog with the intention of letting people get a glimpse into the world of someone else – someone who just happens to have a disability.  We hope that you have learned something new – something that may have surprised you!

Just as I did last year, I asked 88 men and women with disabilities (ages 19 to 70+) who receive services at North Star in Waterloo, Iowa what they were most thankful for.  As just one more example of how alike we all are, you would probably be grateful for many of the same things they are.  Not surprising, friends and family top the list in 53% of the answers.  (Also not surprising – at least not surprising to me ;0) – food is another thing for which we many of us are thankful.)  Thanksgiving blessings to you!  



  • everything.” (Jerry A.)
  • my staff that helps me be independent, and my brothers and sister.” (Allen B.)
  • food like turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie.” (Eric B.)
  • Jesus’ birthday.” (Frank B.)
  • not thankful for anything today.” (Michael B.)
  • my brothers & sisters and North Star.” (Tony B.)
  • North Star, a place to live, good staff and the food I eat.” (Jerry C.)
  • dogs.” (Jessica C.)
  • getting to work at North Star.” (Randy C.)
  • my three sisters and eating turkey and potatoes and gravy.” (Georgia D.)
  • turkey & Thanksgiving.” (Jesse D.)
  • arms and legs and hands.” (Mike D.)
  • turkey and the “Wheel of Fortune.” (Jane F.)
  • family.” (Sam F.)
  • Mom and roommates.” (Crissy G.)
  • my whole family and my mom and Chad Hackenmiller.” (Don G.)
  • everything we have.” (Luke G.)
  • family (and I want to say something else, but that’s inappropriate).” (Tim G.)
  • that my aunt and uncle are coming to share the holiday.” (Andrea H.)
  • my buddies and Chad Hackenmiller.” (Charlie H.)
  • my family & boyfriend.” (Cheryl H.)
  • food to eat, the friends I live with, a place to live, North Star, Goodwill and clothes to wear.” (Chris H.)
  • Mom & Dad.” (Christian H.) 
  • watching movies.” (Emma H.)
  • Day Hab and pop cans.” (Lance H.)
  • my friends.” (Lester H.)
  • if there was no war, and my sisters.” (Robin H.)
  • my friends.” (Roman H.)
  • having Thanksgiving with Carolyn.” (Todd H.)
  • Thanksgiving and karaoke.” (James Ha.)
  • that I can come to North Star and me, myself, and nobody else.” (James Ho.)
  • Thanksgiving.” (Jeff H.)
  • my mom and aunt and Day Hab and something to do!” (Blaine J.)
  • my family.” (Jason J.)
  • horses.” (Kelli J.)
  • River Hills.” (John J.)
  • family, friends, and the play.” (Twila J.)
  • staff and family and good Thanksgiving.” (Bill K.)
  • money, food, dogs, a good group home, working to be on my own and my mom’s cat “Blue.” (Justin K.)
  • family, friends, and staff.” (Brittany K.)
  • my girlfriend, Mom & Dad, new house and the “3 Stooges.” (Chase L.)
  • work.” (Douglas L.)
  • chips and pop and Mom.” (Jon L.)
  • family and my relatives.” (Sheri L.)
  • my family.” (Tabitha L.)
  • drawing.” (Travis L.)
  • my sister and brother.” (Duane M.)
  • turkey day, Christmas, Mom and T.V.” (Jamei M.)
  • Thanksgiving, home, family, and food.” (Larry M.)
  • turkey and my brothers.” (Richard M.)
  • ham, my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.” (Sandra M.)
  • my brothers and a place to live.” (Wendy M.)
  • food and Carol.” (Diane M.)
  • family, friends, church family, food, clothes, house and boyfriend.” (Amanda N.)
  • that I am alive.” (Susan N.)
  • family and getting to live on my own.” (Tammy N.)
  • Mom and Dad.” (Tyler N.)
  • family and staff.” (Mike O.)
  • home.” (Rick O.)
  • family and good health.” (Amy P.)
  • family and the food from Hy-Vee.” (Kylie P.)
  • everything good like being able to see, and going out of town.” (Michael P.)
  • my family.” (Richie P.)
  • family.” (Taylor P.)
  • friends and Crissy.” (Carrie R.)
  • pizza and pie.” (Lee R.)
  • pie.” (Mike R.)
  • Mom & Dad, sisters, brother, and ME!” (Tammy R.)
  • Mom, Good!” (Breyon S.)
  • turkey, ham, peas, Jeffie, and Mary.” (Caroline S.)
  • being alive.” (David S.)
  • living on my own.” (Delbert S.)
  • Spicoli’s and pop.” (Elizabeth S.)
  • my daughter.” (Janice S.)
  • my health.” (Sheryl S.)
  • my mother.” (Suzanne S.)
  • food and turkey and football on T.V.” (Jeff T.)
  • friends, home and roommate.” (Jerry T.)
  • work.” (Tyrone T.)
  • food, turkey, church and coloring pages.” (Christopher V.)
  • corn, pie, turkey, cranberries.” (Rosemary V.)
  • Mom.” (Craig W.)
  • family.” (Matt W.)
  • sister and family.” (Nancy W.)
  • Amanda and Shirley and all the staff.” (Pam W.)
  • Mom and pop and O.P. pizza and Becky.” (Gary We.)
  • I’m alive!” (Gary Wi.)
  • family and music.” (Arnie Y.)

Pizza parties are the best!

I am John J.  I will be 45 on my birthday October 14th.  This year for my birthday I want a Waterloo East High coat.  I live in Waterloo, Iowa.  I live with my sister, Tracy.  I have one other sister and one other brother and some nieces and nephews.  We have one brown cat, one gray cat, and one dog named Mia – she is brown, with white on her chest and she is old.  I went to school at River Hills.  I would like a girlfriend.

I have been coming to North Star a long time (over 20 years).  I like it.  The pizza parties are the best and I like when we get to go to movies.  I have been in North Star’s plays and want to do it again.

I like Waterloo Buck’s baseball, Waterloo Black Hawk’s hockey and I like football.  Especially UNI football.  My dream would be to run a pass back for a touchdown someday.

John Johnson (2)I am a huge wrestling fan and like to watch WWE Raw on Monday nights.  I like Rocco and John Cena.  John Cena won the WWE champion title.

I like to go to Spicoli’s. I think Carolyn will go with me on Monday.  I like to sing at Karaoke.  I always sing “Dog Pound!” (“Who Let the Dogs Out?!”)

My sister gives me money and I buy my own groceries.  One of my goals is to cook and one is to exercise.  I don’t always like to do them, but I do.  I like hot dogs, corn dogs, pizza, and hamburgers.  Pizza and cheeseburgers are my favorites!  I like Pepsi, too.  Sometimes Mt. Dew or 7-Up, but Pepsi is my favorite.

I like to watch “Full House” on TV. and I like D.J. (Tanner). I listen to my music CD of “Boston.”  I got to go to Haley & Jeff’s wedding reception and I got to dance with Haley.

You just have to deal with it!

cherylMy name is Cheryl.  I am 52 and I was born at St. Francis (now Covenant Hospital).  I’m a good person and I come to North Star every day.  I dress nice and I make sure I comb my hair every day.  I live in a duplex in Waterloo and I have a new roommate.  I am dealing with it and it’s going pretty well.  I clean my place when it needs it, make my bed every day, and do laundry on Saturday and Wednesday.  I just got a new mattress that took a lot of my money.  I just got a new sweatshirt that cost $35.

I have good days and some days are bad.  You just have to deal with it and not worry about it!

I like to go places and am planning a trip to see my niece in South Carolina.  She is my nephew’s girl and she’s five years old.  I would also like to visit my sister someday.  Sometime I would like to go to Disney World.  I like log rides and probably would see Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck there.

I like to do my hobbies – I like latch hook and crochet.  On Mondays I get to go out to eat with my dad and Carla – I like to go to Pizza Hut.  I also like to visit my mom at Ravenwood, and once a week I bring her supper, last week it was Taco John’s.  I plan to spend part of Easter with my mom and the other part with my dad and Carla. 

If I didn’t have a disability things would be different.

Brittany K.

My name is Brittany K.  I graduated from high school from Grundy Center in 2004, 10 years ago now.  But I went to a lot of different schools.  I went to school in Colorado until I was eight, then I went to Dike and Aplington and Parkersburg, too.  I am smart.  But I can be stubborn.  School was hard sometimes because people and even some teachers called me names and made fun of me.

I moved from Colorado when I was 8 because my grandparents are from here.  My parents live in Reinbeck and my mom manages the steakhouse there.  I worked there sometimes.  Right now I live in Cedar Falls and my roommate is Jessica.

I have two brothers and one sister and lots of nieces and nephews.  I was born early and I was Mom’s “miracle baby,” because I died like seven times and wasn’t supposed to live.  I weighed about five pounds and had a hole in my heart and I have had a lot of different surgeries.

I like to listen to music.  All kinds of music – I grew up on rock and roll especially Bob Seeger and Bob Dillon.  I like to sing and people tell me I have a beautiful voice.  I was in choir and didn’t stop from like kindergarten to 12th grade.  I would really like to make a CD and I want to go on the road and meet some country singers.  I went to the Luke Bryan concert with my friend Tammy.  I am wearing the pink bracelet I got there and am not going to take it off!

I am artistically talented.  I like to work with plastic canvas and am very fast at it.  Right now I am making some presents for my family with the canvas.  I also like to color.  I like scrapbooking and have tons of pictures!

I also like the Wii and I am good at swimming and I like to exercise. For relaxation, I like to work on jigsaw puzzles or talk to my boyfriend.  I like to watch TV and my favorites are “Family Matters,” “Family Ties,” and “Who’s the Boss.”  My favorite movies are “The Body Guard” and “Waiting to Exhale” – I love Whitney Houston.

I am very good remembering details like people’s birthday’s and birth weights.

My dream (besides making a CD) is to be able to drive so I can go anywhere I want.  I would also like to get married and be a mom someday.

Some days I just can’t win.  Sometimes there is just too much drama around here.  I wish I could make more friends of my own because some of my friends are my mom’s friends.  I really hate it when people make fun of me and call me names and tell me I’m dumb because I am not.  I also really hate when people use the “R – word!!”  If I didn’t have a disability things would be different.


I Love Country Music!

Tammy (in cowboy hat) with  Brittany at the Luke Bryan concert

Tammy (in cowboy hat) with Brittany at the Luke Bryan concert

My name is Tammy R.  I got to go to the Luke Bryan concert and it was good! (Thank you to Van for the tickets!)  I went with Marilyn, Mary A., and my friend Brittany.  I got to go out to eat and I had a cheeseburger and onion rings.  We got home really late.  I love the song “Country Girl (Shake it for Me!)” that Luke Bryan sings.  I also got a t-shirt and a pink bracelet!  I really love to listen to music and country music is my favorite.

I like movies – I like the “Wizard of Oz” and the scary movie “Exorcist!”  I like feeling happy and I like good weather and sunshine.  I like blowing bubbles and I like to paint.  My favorite color is blue.

I live in a group home in Waterloo with some girl roommates (Caroline, Debbie, Carla) and also some boy roommates who live on the other side of the house.  We get to sleep in on Saturdays and my chore is to sweep and mop.  I also keep my room clean and do my own laundry.  Living there makes me happy!

–by Tammy R.

If I could go anywhere in the world:

If I were to go anywhere in the world, I would go visit all my friends that I’ve met in the past years from Camp Barnabas. All of my friends from Camp Barnabas live in different states, so I would take an airplane to go visit each and every one of them. I would spend a whole week with each of them. Each week that I would spend with them, I would have so much fun with them by doing things like going shopping, swimming, getting nails done, and so much more. I would have such a blast with each one of them that I would be sad to, but happy to go on another adventure with one of my other friends the next week. It would be amazing to see all my friends, and all the beautiful states that they live in.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       * * * Written by Jordan N.* * *