I like movies!

IMG_3332My name is Taylor P.  I went to River Hills School and live in Waterloo with Mom & Dad.  I have three brothers, Trevor, Jordan, and Dakota and one sister. She’s a cheerleader at West High School.  One of my brothers works at Hy-Vee and has his own apartment.

I was in Employment Services, but started in Day Habilitation on Monday.  Yesterday we got to go on an outing to Hansen’s Dairy.  The calves were licking my fingers.  They had twin calves named Star and Wars.  I like all the Star Wars movies; “Return of the Jedi” is my favorite.

I get to watch the dogs and my sister’s dog grabs shoes and then gets in trouble.  I take the dogs outside to go.  This morning it was raining and we have to clean their paws off.

I LOVE to go to the zoo!  My favorite is the Omaha Zoo and I like the gorillas!  One time one of the gorillas at the zoo broke the glass on their window.

We went to Orlando in 2009 and 2013.  I went to Disney World – you should visit it!  And Magic Kingdom has the “Small World.”  We found a vacation home in Florida with a huge tub!  And Florida has palm trees and we ate at Chili’s.

And I went to San Antonio, Texas to see my uncle.  There was the River Walk and Sea World.  I saw the Marine Mammals Show and there was a walrus with big tusks!

Also we went to Walker, Minnesota.  There was a candy store and we got pizza at Benson’s (Emporium) and went to Reed’s.

I like movies.  I like the five Ice Ages movies.  I want to see “Storks” this fall and “Trolls” in November.

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 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.”

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, www.northstarcs.org

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:  www.northstarcs.org

Happy New Year!!

We began this blog project a little over a year ago in hopes we could help people see life through someone else’s eyes, demonstrating that we are truly more alike than we are different. I have learned some things from the people at North Star, and I hope you have too.

I have a few stats about the blog from WordPress that I want to share.

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people.  The most viewed blog entry of 2014 was read 1,100 times. It would take a cable car 18 trips to carry that many people.  This entry was from January 3rd and was titled, “Those who touch our lives stay in our hearts forever,” written as a testament to life of Regina S., a long time friend and North Star participant.

Of course since we live here, most of the people who have viewed this blog are from the United States, but it has also been seen by folks from Canada (13), Germany (8), the United Kingdom (8), Australia (4), India (3), France (2), Spain (2), Japan (2), and also one person each from the countries of Columbia, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, and Finland.  I think that is pretty awesome!

Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR and look for more in the upcoming year!


Jodie and North Star Community Services

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.)

Today we wrote a Halloween story.

We thought it might be fun to get together as a group and write and illustrate some Halloween stories.  Contributing to this story was Michael P., Susan N., Michael B., Tony B., Kay A., Tyrone T. and John J.  Enjoy!

Microsoft Word - Halloween Story 1 




Be careful who you allow to lead you…

My name is Janet W. and I just turned 60!  I just started coming to North Star (Day Habilitation program), but I went to Newel Post (senior adult day and respite care) for about a year.  Newel Post is good, but it’s all older folks, you know?  I wanted to be able to get out and go on outings and get to know the city better.  My disabilities are mental illness and I have a few physical problems; I had a slight stroke and I have arthritis.  I do go to physical therapy three times a week and I use the pool, which is good.

I came from Omaha, but I think it is much colder here!  It was a rough winter.  I really like Waterloo.  I like the downtown area in the summer because there are beautiful flowers and benches you can sit on.  My apartment has four windows and I really like that I can see the river from my window.  I just got a one bedroom apartment, and am working on decorating it.  I bought a pot rack from Bed, Bath and Beyond where I am going to hang the new pots/pans my sister gave me.  When it’s nice out I like to go sit in the park and read my Bible.

Like I said, I really like it here. I really do think that the people are much friendlier here in Waterloo than they are in Omaha.  They smile and say hello.  There is just so much crime and gangs and violence in Omaha.  I had two cousins that died from gun violence.  It’s hard to get jobs, but I can’t figure out why these young people are so angry!

I have two boys and I am just so proud of both of them!!  They turned out fine.  I stayed with my son and daughter-in-law in Waterloo when I first came here.  They are both going to school at the same time!  I think they both want to go into social work.  My oldest boy was in the Navy, but retired after 21 – years.  I prayed to God to keep him safe, and I am just so thankful to God that he didn’t have to go to Iraq or anywhere like that.  They have four children, ages 11, 9, 4, 3 – I think that it is his wife who has her hands full!

I am looking forward to June because I am going to meet up with my sister in Omaha.  We are going to have spa day; nails, hair, and a massage – I never had all of that before.  Then we will take each other’s pictures like we did in our 20’s to see how we’ve changed.  But I got to be sure that I save enough money to do all that!

My best advice is that you have to be careful who you allow to lead you!