Contact: Jodie Muller
North Star Community Services
Phone#: 236-0901, ext. 304
Email: jmuller@northstarcs.org

Summer News 2016

Our Favorite Christmas Memories

We asked a few of the people we serve at North Star to share some of their favorite Christmas memories with us. These are a few of the responses:

Denny: Singing songs.

Jerry: Playing in the snow.

Allen: Getting to see Mom & Dad.

Frank: Drinking eggnog.

Tony: When I got my Bears jacket.

Michael: Getting to eat my mom’s breakfast casserole.

Brandon: Going to see all the Christmas lights.

Luke: Visiting Santa Claus.

Cheryl: When I got a TV for my bedroom!

Chase: Opening presents; I got a Batman statue.

Sheri: My family, friends, turkey and mashed potatoes!

Richard: Listening to Christmas songs.

Wendy: Going to my grandma’s.

Amy: Going to pick out the Christmas tree.

Jim: I once got a watch.

Pam: Playing with my Barbie, when I was a kid.

Arnie: Eating good food.

Gary: Watching Christmas movies.

Tim: Going to my mom and dad’s with my five brothers.

Tabitha: Family time.

"Yesterday Once More" a feel-good hit!

On Tuesday, October 18, 2016, more than 175 friends, family, and community members gathered at St. Mary Church to enjoy the Waverly Center’s annual program. This year’s show titled, “Yesterday Once More,” was chosen because all of the songs in the performance were from the past, although not from a certain decade. Singing the show’s theme song “Yesterday Once More” by Karen Carpenter was Ms. Sonya Foutch making her North Star stage premiere.

Other feature vocalists were Jeremy Kluiter, Chad Olson, Duane Scoles, Cody Adams, Alice McGovern, Dean Shonka, and Lynn Taylor performing a few of their favorite songs. The music chosen was widely varied, and included: “Follow Me” (Uncle Kracker), “Boy Named Sue” and “Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash), “Brand New Key” (Melanie), “These Boots Are Made for Walking” (Nancy Sinatra), “Sugar, Sugar” (Archies), “Tear in My Beer,” (Hank Williams), and more. The finale was Heather Hendricks singing, “Tomorrow,” from the musical, “Annie.” Lucas Dicks signed the lyrics for some of the songs.

Acting as emcee for the musical variety show was Nick Jentz; and directing was North Star staff person, Ray Dixon. The other participants in the show involved as greeters, actors, and band members were: Archie Pratt, Brent Westmeyer, Russell Lalk, Jay Billington, Danielle Jensen, Sierra Pleas, Janet Schwerin, Courtney Tharp, Lacie Vorthmann, Alison Cusick, Holly Forest, Haleigh Swick, Joel Brase, Tim Gallmeyer, McKenna Hart, Ben Smith, Dawn Smith, and Travis Moeller.

October’s show marked the milestone 10th anniversary of North Star Community Services" Annual Program. First conceptualized in 2006 as a way to showcase the talents of the individuals served by North Star’s Waverly Center, the performers, the majority of whom have an intellectual, developmental, or physical disability, spend several months practicing their music and putting together the sets and props. In the beginning, the shows were held in December, and based on popular Christmas stories; everything from “Polar Express” to “Shrek the Halls” to Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol.”

In 2012, the decision was made to move the shows to October when the weather is more dependable, and moving away from the holidays allowed the option to explore a wider range of show themes. Since then, the performers have put together performances celebrating Hollywood, the Grand Ole Opry, the United States of America, and the 1950’s and 60’s.

thanks to Bremer County Community Foundation/Waverly Community Fund (affiliates of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa) and MAMA (Mid-America Music Association) for help in funding the production. Additional thanks are extended to St. Mary Church and Janesville United Methodist Church-Rebecca Circle.

"Time for Art" outstanding success!

In an effort to bring the arts to those with disabilities and disability awareness to the public, North Star hosted an art show, “Time for ART,” on June 14, 2016. The show was an outstanding success, and featured around 300 artistic masterpieces from 143 men and women who attend day programs in Waterloo and Waverly. The attendees were able to get in the groove with jazz quartet, “Hands of Time,” (Chris Merz, Robert Dunn, Jonathan Schwabe, and Dennis Johnson) and enjoy a glass of wine or punch, while viewing all of the beautiful and varied, colorful works of art on display.

The evening also featured a silent auction to raise funds for North Star’s great art, music, and theatre programs. Thank you to everyone who donated such great items to the event, and to everyone who bid on them; through your support, we were able to raise nearly $5,000! Thanks are also extended to Mr. Bill Close for his valuable input and assistance on displays, and to North Star’s artists, staff, volunteers, and board of directors.

Additional thanks go to our sponsors: PDCM Insurance, Wells Fargo, Mutual of America, Quota International-Waterloo, ColorFx and Cedar Valley Art & Wine. And, thanks to reception sponsors: Hy-Vee and Scratch Cupcakery!

Most artists had more than one piece in the show, but chose only one to submit for Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice awards. Special thanks to our guest judges, Mayor Quentin Hart, C.F. Councilman Frank Darrah, Bill Close, Kim Blakesley, Carolyn Martin, Corrie Sink, Kelly Turner, and Clark Wilharm.

    Judge's Choice Awards:

  • Randy Cross (photography)
  • Luke George (painted ceramic)
  • Cheryl Hartman (solar print watercolor)
  • Jamei Matteson (watercolor)
  • Mckenzie Meisinger (mixed media)
  • Susan Nosbisch (mixed media)
  • Richie Plocher (fiber art)
  • Courtney Tharp (photography)
  • Diana Turner (melted crayon)

    People's Choice Awards:

  • Travis Folkerts (acrylic on canvas)
  • Kelli Jensen (solar print watercolor)
  • Kaylin Klepper (recycled art, acrylic)
  • Tina Ticknor (recycled art, mod-podge)
  • Dean Shonka (photography and video art)
  • Jeremy Kluiter (photography and video art)
  • Lynn Taylor (photography and video art)
  • Nick Jentz (photography and video art)
  • Chad Olson (photography and video art)
  • Travis Folkerts (photography and video art)

Iowa Health Links

Early last year, Iowa began pursuing the privatization of most of the state’s Medicaid programs. This is a very large program serving 560,000 Iowans, and up until this point, most of Medicaid has been administered through a state agency known as Iowa Medicaid Enterprise (IME). Beginning on April 1st, most of the Medicaid programs will be joined together into a single, managed program that is called IA Health Link. This will give current Iowa Medicaid participants access to care coverage through a Managed Care Organization or MCO.

The state has chosen three MCOs to manage Iowa’s Medicaid program, and include: Amerigroup, AmeriHealth Caritas, and United Healthcare (a fourth, WellCare, was terminated by the state). People now receiving Medicaid will be assigned to one of these three MCOs, but do have the option to switch to a health plan of their choosing. The individuals who receive their Medicaid services through a family member’s private health insurance will stay with IME.

The majority of North Star’s funding comes from Medicaid, and while we anticipate that there will be some significant changes, especially to our administrative processes, North Star remains committed to providing the best services that we possibly can for the nearly 600 people we serve each year.

What you can expect from North Star:

  • North Star Community Services has contracted with each of the MCOs, which means that you will be able to choose any MCO that you want.

  • North Star staff members will be here to be a resource to you, and help with questions, thoughts, or concerns.

  • North Star will continue to provide the same menu of services (and perhaps more) unless we are specifically required to change by a law, rule, or regulation.

  • North Star will continue, as we always have, to keep the needs, wants, and desires of our consumers at the forefront of service delivery, and North Star’s mission to empower each person to “realize potential, pursue dreams, and enjoy life” will remain at the core of what we do every day.

  • Did you know Waverly Center has a bell choir?

    Several participants from North Star's Waverly Center perform bell choir concerts around the Bremer County area. A new fun facet to the shows is the addition of an "iPad Band," in which participants use the iPad to play different instrumental sounds. They are led by North Star staff member, Ray Dixon. The Bell Choir/iPad Band typically perform at different Christmas events, and also visit a few nursing homes throughout the year. If you are interested, you can schedule the Bell Choir to perform for your program at any time during the year. Contact the Waverly Center at 319-352-1425 for more information, or to schedule a performance.

    If you haven't visited North Star's blog, you should check it out today!

    North Star’s blog is entitled “See Through our Eyes.” [click here to see it]

    This blog is different, because it is being written (or dictated) by the men and women with disabilities who participate in programs at North Star. Each entry is about anything the person wants to share with others.

    Since disability is really just another part of the human experience, it is our hope that through these postings you will be able to step outside of your own world, and perhaps learn a little bit about someone else’s life. What you discover may surprise you!

    In a quote taken from a song by rap artist, DMX, “Look through my eyes, see what I do, be what I be, walk in my shoes.” That is what we hope that this project will accomplish – allowing other people to see things from a new point of view and demonstrating that no matter what our abilities, we are really more alike than we are different.