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Their son, Jason, was 19 years old when David DeGraff and Sharon Pluta-DeGraff first encountered LDA Life and Learning Services. As Sharon recalls, "I didn’t know where to turn for guidance and assistance with an adult child with developmental disabilities and such complex needs."


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Board Member Anne Babcock-Stiner

How did you first hear about our organization?

I had known about The Advocacy Center through two of my coworkers. Once my son was born with Down syndrome, in 2010, I became more involved with the organization. I graduated from Partners in Policymaking® in 2012 and joined the Board in 2013.


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Jayshawna Israel, a senior at World of Inquiry School in Rochester, has volunteered for Together Including Every Student (TIES) for two years. TIES, a program of Starbridge, provides support to students with developmental disabilities to participate in extracurricular and recreational activities.


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Donnell Evans is a busy man with clear goals for his future. "I would like to go back to school and finish my degree in Communications and Media Studies at MCC. In five years, my goal is to have a job. I haven’t found a girlfriend yet, but I’m working on that now," Donnell says with a smile. In ten years, Donnell would like to be married, start a family, and hopefully have a good career.


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When Maria Vazquez first came to The Advocacy Center, now Starbridge, she needed help for her son, Jose. As she recalls, "He wasn’t learning. I needed help for him due to his medical needs, and he needed supports for learning." Jose has Type 1 Diabetes, seizure disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Maria began working with Maritza Cubi, Bilingual Family Education Specialist. They discussed all of Maria’s options, starting with asking staff at Jose’s school to communicate with Maria in her native language.


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Action for a Better Community (ABC) held a press conference on August 11, 2016, to announce the start of ROC-HPOG (Health Professions Opportunity Grants), a new program designed to prepare individuals with low incomes for careers in health care. ABC was awarded 1.6 million dollars over a five-year period, with the goal of helping 1,000 people regionally prepare for and find employment in the health care field.


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Hello Friends:

Thank you to all of you who participated in Starbridge's survey earlier this summer. We received over 600 responses, and we are now in the process of reviewing the data. Your input is valuable to us, and I look forward to learning more about how we can better serve you and keep you informed about Starbridge's role in helping people lead fulfilling lives in their communities.


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Lindsey Street has fond childhood memories of gardening with her family. Sunflowers often provided a bright backdrop of yellow in their yard in the summers. They also grew raspberries, strawberries, beans, tomatoes, and hot peppers.


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The Board of Directors of Starbridge elected its officers for 2016 – 2017 at the organization’s annual meeting on June 22, 2016. Matt Perdue will serve as Chair, with Mary Richardson as Chair Elect, George Gray as Vice Chair, Lori Barnard-Northrup as Secretary, Paul Visca as Treasurer, and Stephen Schwarz as At-large Member. At the meeting, President/CEO Colin Garwood thanked Stephen Schwarz for his exemplary leadership as Board President over the last four years.


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Early May is “Serve with Liberty” time for employees of Liberty Mutual Insurance. During that period, teams from offices around the world contribute their time to nonprofit agencies in their home communities. A group from the Greece, NY, office spent one day repainting the common areas of one of Starbridge’s homes.