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Dear Friends:

I hope this message finds you well. Spring is almost here, and many parents of school-aged children are preparing for springtime meetings with their children's teachers or the CSE. We have resources available on our website, including a video giving an Overview of the CSE Process.

Jensen Caraballo's dream is that people with disabilities will be included in the community, and that they no longer will be discriminated against or "left out of the picture". His dream is personal: Jensen was forced to live in an institutionalized setting from age 15 to age 21, because there were no other options for him. At age 18, he started advocating for his freedom, which he achieved at age 21 when he moved into his own apartment. He still lives on his own, with support from personal care aides.

Robert Webb achieved a Starbridge first last December – he became the first graduate from our Health Professions Opportunities Grant (HPOG) program and passed the exam to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.

Susana Montes describes her experience parenting a child with autism as a journey: "When I started walking this journey, I had no clue about anything. I had a lot of guilt, and I felt powerless. I blamed my son's condition on myself."

Over the last several years, Maritza Cubi and Maggie Burgos have collaborated to support Compeer families with their children’s educational needs. Maritza serves as Bilingual Family Education Specialist at Starbridge and Maggie is a Senior Family Peer Mentor at Compeer. After hearing stories shared by families and youth, the two women realized there was a need to empower youth and develop their self-advocacy skills.

Last week, members of The Church of the Resurrection delivered donations to benefit over 20 individuals and families receiving service coordination from Starbridge. This is the eleventh year that church members have contributed many different items including household supplies, clothes, toys, and gift cards. Their gifts not only help individuals and families who are particularly in need right now, but also will provide resources and support for those families throughout the year.

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Dear Friends:

Thanksgiving gives us all a chance to focus on gratitude and appreciation, and hopefully time to connect with family, friends, and community. At Starbridge, we are thankful for our connection to you.

Starbridge Board member Carrie Fuller-Spencer was selected as one of the Rochester Business Journal’s 2016 Forty Under 40 honorees. The awards highlight professionals under the age of 40 "who have achieved professional success and have also made significant civic contributions to our community".

This summer, Marilyn Stata achieved a personal goal: living in her own apartment. She enjoys the quiet of her home, its proximity to parks and nature, and the company of her beloved cat, Sophie.

Marilyn’s journey to independence started fifteen years ago when she moved from her family home into supervised apartments operated by LDA Life and Learning Services (now part of Starbridge). Marilyn found she had a knack for cooking, and her housemates enjoyed tasting what she made.

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April Dixon, Family Education Specialist at Starbridge, graduated from the United Way of Greater Rochester’s African American Leadership Development Program on November 3, 2016. This year’s class of 39 joins a network of 800 graduates in the Rochester area. The rigorous program prepares individuals to lead and serve the greater Rochester community. Curriculum topics include communication, decision making, and serving on a board.