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Thomas’* first grade year was difficult. He frequently struggled with schoolwork and his frustrations led to behaviors that disrupted class. His parents began to suspect Thomas might have a learning disability, yet they were unsure of what help they could request through the school. So they pulled Thomas from the public school, and Sarah*, his mom, quit her full-time job to homeschool him.

For two years, along with homeschooling Thomas, Sarah and her husband consulted experts. Evaluations resulted in diagnoses of high-functioning autism, ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), anxiety, and learning disabilities. Sarah described Thomas as very smart and imaginative yet “all this other stuff gets in the way”.


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Dear Friends:

Each October, we observe two national initiatives: National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Bullying Prevention Month.

Both causes link to a vital part of our mission: transforming communities to include everyone.


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Starbridge is grateful to be the recipient of a generous donation from the Kickball League of Rochester's summer teams.


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Ron Knapp describes his early experiences advocating for his son, Gavin, as "stumbling in the dark." Planning meetings for Gavin where numerous professionals sat around a large table felt intimidating and caused Ron to sometimes get defensive.


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Dear Friends:

I hope you are enjoying summer. I would like to share some information on a new statewide initiative and some upcoming educational opportunities for you.


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The Parkes and McNally Family Legacy

To understand why Walter and Barbara Parkes are longtime supporters of Starbridge, you would have to know their granddaughter Kristina McNally’s story. Kristina does not tell it often, but agreed to share with us.

"When I was in first grade, I wasn't able to understand what was going on in the classroom. I was diagnosed with learning disabilities. At times, my parents were told I would not go to college," says Kristina.


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In 2015, Jessica McTiernan abruptly received a notice from Social Security (SSA) that they were terminating her benefits. She immediately reached out to Julie Marks, Work Incentives Counselor at Starbridge, to ask for help in appealing the termination. As Jessica remembers, "I was scared to death. There’s so much involved and I’m afraid of doing something wrong."


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Bob and his wife Jane are the parents of two children, Julia and Steven. Bob works as a Vice President at Key Insurance & Benefits Services.

Why did you decide to get involved as a board member?

I knew LDA Life and Learning Services, and I wanted to give back to the community. The bank I worked for at the time was very supportive of community involvement, which I appreciated. I have volunteered over the years for the American Diabetes Association and various Autism organizations.


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Ten years ago, Shanai Webster took and passed the entrance exam for the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center. However, she was not able to start the program. Instead, she focused her energies on taking care of her children and working.


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On Saturday, May 13, more than 200 guests gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the Holiday Inn Downtown to raise money to support Starbridge and celebrate the good work done by our 2017 Community Award recipients.