Happy Thanksgiving!

At North Star we are thankful for many, many things.  But most especially we are thankful for our families, friends, volunteers, donors, and the staff that help us.  Here a few responses from both staff and participants from North Star in Waverly, Iowa to our annual question, “What are you are most grateful for?”

Alice – Everything

Darren – Family, friends and coming to North Star

Heather – gummy bears, animal gum and fruit stripe gum

Debbie – Health and grandbabies

Nick – Being able to get dinner

Loreli – Family and Coffee

Hope – Family

Sonja – my dog Chance and family

Dakota – turkey, and green bean casserole

Cody – transportation

Holly – Family

Jim – sleep

Travis – Family and work

Janet – Judy

Russell – cookies

Courtney – turkey, potatoes and my Mom and Dad

McKenna – Mom and Dad and Home

Dean – Family, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews

Brent – Mom, Dad and sister

Haleigh – Friends and family

Lacie – Family and Ernie

Colette – Family, good health, friends, and my job

Kim – Good health

Christi – Grandchildren, job, home, friends, painting, hobbies

What are we thankful for?


I am thankful for…..

Denny:  North Star.

Jerry:  Going to church on Sundays and MET Transit.

Allen:  My friends and my staff.

Eric:  Coming to North Star and the whole country.

Tony:  Family & friends.

Sarah:  Mom & Dad.

Chad:  Coming to North Star, my mom and playing with the Ipad.

Tim G.:  Jessica.

Austin:  My life.

Luke:  Mom & Dad and video games.

Don:  My roommates.

Russ:  That I am able to write books.

Emma:  My Dad.

James:  That I get to see my brother.

Jason:  Orange pop and turkey.

Kelli:  Horses and family.

John J.:  My sister, Tracey, and East High Football.

Brittany:  My mom (or I wouldn’t be alive) and my roommates.

Phil:  Good health – I go to the doctor.

Bill:  My girlfriends and my roommates.

Sandra:  Pizza and my brother.

Richard:  My family.

Taylor:  My family and the Henry Doorly Zoo.

Carrie:  My mom and my family.

Breyon:  Mom.

Jon L.: Pop.

Rosemary:  North Star and turkey.

Gary:  My staff and UNO cards.

Tim:  North Star and being alive.

Amanda:  My grandma and my boyfriend.

Baylee:  My family and my brother.

Matt:  Family and bowling.


What we’re thankful for

What some of the participants at North Star in Waterloo are thankful for this year!

What the turkey's grateful about!

What the turkey’s grateful about!

Arnie: Alvin and the Chipmunks
Bill: family, roommates, girlfriend
Blaine: North Star
Brandon: turkey
Breyon: Mom
Brittany S.: My job
Brock: turkey and Thanksgiving
Carrie: Mom
Charlie: Gallagher Bluedorn and our volunteers
Chase: going shopping in Iowa City with my mom
Cheryl: that I live in a nice home
Courtney: Chelsey
Crissy: roommates
Denny: staff
Diane: food
Don: Chad Hackenmiller, my brother, Mary Beth, and mom
Doug: church, Christmas, turkey and pie
Eric: our country, family, and staff
Gary We.: pie
Gary Wi.: being here and my girlfriend, my staff, a house, and my family
Haley K.: health, family and my kiddos
James Ha.: turkey and Thanksgiving
James Ho.: nothing right now
James S.: food
Jeff H.: food
Jeff T.: food and Dad
Jerry: family, North Star, Newel Post, and church
Joe: Mom, Dad, and my new job
John: that I stay with my sister
Kelli: horses
Kenneth: monster trucks
Kylie friends and family
Larry: family, niece and nephew
Lee: pizza!
Luke: everything we have
Megan B.: my mom
Mike D.: what God gave me
Mike O.: family and staff
Mike R.: food!
Pam: Thanksgiving and North Star
Phil: father and sister
Randy: being here and learning, and also turkey
Richard: turkey and potatoes and dressing (“dressing’s good stuff!”)
Richie: family
Rosemary: turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin pie
Roza: art
Sandra: my brother, sister-in-law, nephew
Sarah: my aunt
Sheri: my mom
Sheryl: my health
Shirley H.: health, family, and friends
Susan: Life – “you know, that we’re alive”
Tammy: my mom, dad, sisters, brothers, and my niece and nephew
The Turkey: To be alive and not on the plate!
Tony: my family and friends
Travis: staff and being able to draw
Twila: the stuffing, cheesecake and pumpkin pie
Wendy: my brothers

What are you thankful for?

What are you grateful for?  As a sequel to last week’s post featuring participants in North Star’s Waterloo day programs, below are some of the things that people participating in Waverly programs are thankful for:

  • Lacie:  Ernie, mom and dad, rocking in the rocking chair
  • Alison:  my sister, pop, boyfriend, Troy, hats, cups, happy faces, shopping
  • Slim:  brother, sister, parents, sister-in-law, food, moonshine, country music, my bachelor pad
  • Brent:  parents, family dog, donuts, food, vacation, staff, living on my own
  • Jay:  maracas, music, SpongeBob, someone scratching my back
  • Shirley:  latch hook, crossword puzzles, pop, family
  • Jeremy:  parents, spending time with my brother, pop, going fishing
  • Heather:  family, food, drink, movies
  • Joel:  my bus driver, radios, being an usher at church, DVD’s, helping my friend at North Star
  • Russell:  chocolate, root beer, Elvis, new clothes

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.)

What are we thankful for at the Waverly Center?

We posed the same question  “What are you thankful for?” – to some of the men and women who receive services at North Star’s Waverly Center, located in Waverly, Iowa.  I bet that you are probably thankful for many of the same things that they are thankful for!   Read on to see their answers.


  • my staff, family, and food! – – Cody A.
  • Dean Shonka – – Jean B.
  • friends, my bus driver, and Ray Dixon (staff) – – Joel B.
  • my good friends, coming to North Star, and my vacation – – Maria B.
  • for Thanksgiving food and my brother coming – – Lucas D.
  • Mom & Dad, and for you (the staff asking the question) – – Travis F.
  • going to Misty & Patrick’s house for Thanksgiving – – Heather H.
  • my mom, dad, sister, and brother – – Jeremy K.
  • for staff, hard work, and the Hawkeyes – – Russell L.
  • my sweater! – – Shirley L.
  • being alive and for my friends, family, and staff – – Alice M.
  • for my family, Corissa (staff), and for wresting – “I like that!” – – Chad O.
  • my brothers – – Dawn S.
  • for food, stuffing, sweet potato, meat and for family & friends – – Dean S.
  • Halloween and Judy – – Janet S.
  • for my sister’s new baby – – Grant T.
  • my mom & dad and the Thanksgiving Day parade on TV – – Lynn T.
  • staff at North Star, for my family, friends, and trips – – Brent W.

What are we thankful for?

Since Thanksgiving is the holiday where we gather with our family and friends, we often take the opportunity to reflect on what we are thankful for.  In keeping with the season,  I asked 92 of the men and women (all of whom live with some type of disability and range in age from 21 to 70) who participate in day programs here in Waterloo this question, “Since it is nearly Thanksgiving, what is it that you are thankful for?”  I received a wide range of answers and not surprisingly, 44% of the people listed family and friends in their answers.

thanks for the windows edited words


Read on to see what I found out.


  • for my toys (Celina A.)
  • Halloween (Denny A.)
  • family, church friends, my cousins (Kay A.)
  • “girls” (Allen B.)
  • family and friends (Michael B.)
  • my cell phone and girlfriend (Tony B.)
  • North Star friends, family, roof over my head, a good life (Jerry C.)
  • family (Jessica C.)
  • Mom & Dad (Sarah C.)
  • if the weather wouldn’t be too bad (Randy C.)
  • dark meat turkey, turkey skin and making a wish with the wishbone (Tim C.)
  • Grandma (Andrea D.)  
  • my family and my Nook (Georgia D.)
  • myself – my arms and legs (Mike D.)
  • having two jobs (Frank D.)
  • coming to North Star and my best friend (Willy E.)
  • the play – North Star’s June production of Peter Pan (Jane F.)
  • Jesus dying on the cross for my sins (Tim G.)
  • roommates, family (Crissy G.)
  • family, friends, North Star staff (Don G.)
  • home and family (Linda H.)
  • the people at River Hills, TV Guide (Charlie H.)
  • my family (Cheryl H.)
  • Karaoke (James H.)
  • just being alive ( another James H.!)
  • having a job (Andrea H.)
  • if there was no more wars (Robin H.)
  • mom and dad (Kenny H.)
  • bowling (Jeff H.)
  • my staff who fix meals for me (John H.)
  • my cat, “Kit Kat” (Lance H.)
  • that I lost a lot of weight and my family (Rhonda H.)
  • Lien (a staff person) and reading the Waterloo Courier (Todd H.)
  • friends, family, Adrian Peterson from the MN Vikings (Blaine J.)
  • that I have a job (Isaiah J.)  
  • football (John J.)
  • horses (Kelly J.)
  • pizza (Twila J.)
  • Mom (Jason J.)
  • my staff and family (Bill K.)
  • my family, niece, nephews (Brittany K.)
  • clean clothes (Brock K.)
  • electronics (Justin K.)
  • family, that I have my grandpa, and my boyfriend (Tabitha L.)
  • my girlfriend (Chase L.)
  • my friends at North Star (Andy L.)
  • chips and Pepsi (Jon L.)
  • family, friends, relatives, pizza (Sheri L.)
  • being able to draw (Travis L.)
  • Grandma Kay (Ben M.)
  • Donna (Mike M.)
  • family (Larry M.)
  • everybody (Sandra M.)
  • a place to live (Wendy M.)
  • cooking (Diane M.)
  • “not interested” in answering (Zach M.)
  • my dog and family (Jordan N.)
  • that I’m alive! (Susan N.)
  • a new 50 – inch TV that I can watch (Tammy N.)
  • Newel Post and North Star (Jerry O.)
  • my friends (Mike O.)
  • my house (Joe P.)
  • my family (Amy P.)
  • that I have a job because a lot of people don’t (Richie P.)  
  • relatives, family, animals (Kylie P.)
  • my grandparents (Taylor P.)
  • family (Carrie R.)
  • my sister, Wal-Mart, and lights (Jim R.)
  • my mom and my staff people (Lee R.)
  • turkey and pie (Mike R.)
  • family, Alabama – country music group (Tammy R.)
  • Mom and music (Breyon S.)
  • chicken sandwiches, rice and Jeffie (Caroline S.)
  • my cat (Courtney S.)
  • my new house, my girlfriend (James S.)
  • my mom (Suzanne S.)
  • friends and working at North Star for 13 years (David S.)
  • my daughter (Janice S.)
  • that I am fine (Barb S.)
  • my staff person, Linda (one more Barb S.)
  • that I am healthy (Sheryl S.)
  • that I can go to my staff’s house for Thanksgiving (Jerry T.)
  • food (Jeff T.)
  • getting this brace off and getting a smaller one soon (Tina T.)
  • my family (Tyrone T.)
  • Thanksgiving (Steve W.)
  • being alive (and another Steve W.)
  • naps, pop and cookies (Gary W.)
  • my mom, stepdad, grandma, and wrestling, too! (LaShunda W.)
  • Tiwanna (Pam W.)
  • friends (Matt W.)
  • family (Tempest W.)
  • family and my sheriff badge (Arnie Y.)