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News May 13, 2016 - 2:16:14 AM

Diageo North America Employees Revitalize STAR Center in Norwalk to Benefit Neighbors With Disabilities

By STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way

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The Diageo volunteer group at STAR (contributed photo)
More than 100 employees from Diageo North America’s finance team recently undertook a transformational service project at the STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way center in Norwalk. STAR is a nonprofit organization that has provided services to individuals with developmental disabilities in Mid-Fairfield County since 1952.

The project, chosen by Diageo North America’s Norwalk-based finance team, was selected for the group’s annual community service event and included updates to the entire property, including the creation of landscaped gardens, vegetable, flower and interior atrium/serenity gardens, clearing of wooded areas, updating back areas including creating a deck and wheelchair-accessible pathways and more. The volunteers chose this project because of the opportunity to restore the outdoor environment of STAR, a community resource that creates opportunities for individuals to live full lives with independence, freedom of choice and personal growth. A client of STAR is employed at the Diageo Norwalk office on Main Avenue through STAR’s competitive employment program.

Over the course of the day, the enthusiastic team of Diageo volunteers :

· Brought in nine tons of gravel and eight tons of stone dust and used them to build wheelchair accessible pathways and patios in the rear and atrium
· Installed and prepared a vegetable garden and a meditation garden for garden therapy, Garden Club clients and healthy eating classes.
· Repaired and refinished old picnic tables and benches, bringing in wood, cutting and installing the new seats and tabletops.
· Donated patio equipment, meditation benches for gardens and exterior areas.
· Spread over six truckloads of mulch, donated and planted beautiful landscaping in the front of the facility to welcome guests and members—including rose bushes, azaleas, snapdragons, flowering trees and more.
· Leveled the back area, laid the pavers and completed a new back deck for clients and donated lovely patio furniture for clients to sit in and enjoy the outdoor setting.

Katie Banzhaf, Executive Director of STAR said, “This event was truly transformational for STAR. The energy, enthusiasm, teamwork, productivity and end results were amazing. Our entire STAR family is in awe over the quality and quantity of work accomplished by our Diageo friends… from the massive brick patio with picnic tables and benches to the blooming landscape that welcomes STAR visitors and two deer-proof gardens for garden therapy and healthy eating classes PLUS the tranquil zen garden atrium with meditation benches to be enjoyed year round. It is nothing short of a miracle in our eyes.”

Diageo is the world's leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of international and domestic beverage alcohol brands across spirits, beer and wine.

STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not–for-profit organization serving individuals of all ages who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as providing support services to their families. They create opportunities for individuals to live full lives with independence, freedom of choice and personal growth by providing support, services and advocacy. They inform and encourage the community to recognize and appreciate the value of all individuals. For more information about STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way please visit their website www.starct.org.

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