STARS: Helping the Intellectually Disabled toward Independence

by RaeAnne Marsh

Nonprofit_STARSScottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services’ annual Fiesta de las Madrinas fundraiser gets a change-up this year as the organization celebrates its 40th year. Recalling STARS’s beginnings in 1973, this year’s Throwback Fiesta offers a ’70s theme from its entertainment to its food and drinks, which will include the era’s ubiquitous “Shake ’n Bake” Chicken, salmon croquettes and (although not finalized at time of press) wine spritzers and wine coolers. The boutique environment for the Fiesta’s silent auction will even include a Tupperware party. A further “throwback” aspect is the event venue: the Scottsdale Stadium, which was the Scottsdale Rodeo Grounds when STARS began out of a trailer on the property.

Aiming for a more lighthearted and fun event, STARS CEO Virginia Korte says they hope guests will get in the spirit with bell-bottoms and platform shoes. Those too young to have been there, says Jennifer Dangremond, director of development, “will love the novelty of pretending to be in the ’70s.”

Throwback Fiesta revenue will support Transitions, STARS’s newest program, which, unlike its other programs, is not covered through Arizona’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. The goal this year is to net $150,000.



  • STARS serves individuals who have some level of intellectual disability, whether related to disorders such as Down Syndrome or autism or caused by brain injury due to an accident.
  • The teen Transitions Program offers one-on-one counseling with families to help them navigate a child’s post-high school life. By helping teens get connected to programs at the time they graduate, Korte explains, “we don’t see a fall-off later” in skills and knowledge they learned in high school.”
  • Two hundred youth will be eligible to graduate in the next two to three years who have some kind of development disability.
  • In addition to the teen program, STARS serves about 200 people in its day programs and vocational services. Day programs include life skills, arts and cooking classes. Vocational services include on-site work centers and job support and coaching for individuals employed in the community.
  • “STARS is reaching out beyond Scottsdale’s borders to work with surrounding communities to expose our services to individuals who can benefit,” says Korte.

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