Tag Archives: STAR Lighting the Way

Roundup: History Museum Stays Closed; MoCA Reopens; Main Street; More


Cultural institutions are reopening around Connecticut. However, the Westport Museum for History and Culture will remain closed.

Executive director Ramin Ganeshram says it’s not because they want to. Instead, she wrote in an email to members, “we have to.”

One reason: the “antique building with small rooms and an aged HVAC system” lacks the air filtration or cross-ventilation needed to host more than 1 or 2 visitor at a time.

In addition, a “major structural failure in the center of the building that was left unaddressed for many years and exacerbated by aspects of the way the building was used” will take “a lot of time and a lot of financial resources to ultimately fix.”

However, Ganeshram said, the COVID closure has allowed staff to “fix both the structural failure and work to save collections and archives that had not been properly assessed, catalogued or preserved for many decades.”


MoCA Westport is reopening. The big day is Wednesday (July 8).

In anticipation, they’ve released a short film showcasing the current exhibition: “Helmut Lang: 41.1595° N, 73.3882° W.”

The video from Douglas Tirola and 4th Row Films offers a first-person experience of walking through the exhibition, and provides background on Lang’s inspiration for the works. Click below to see.


Last night was gorgeous. The temperature was just right. It was Friday — the start of the weekend.

It was the perfect night for a picnic, meeting friends, or sunset watching at Compo Beach. It hardly mattered that there are no grills or picnic tables, and the concession stand is closed.

Nearly everyone heeded the social distancing signs. Many wore masks. And nearly everyone seemed grateful to be outdoors, with other people, again.

(Photo/Dan Woog)


The Main Street planters are all in place. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association project was created to provide more room for shoppers.

This was the scene yesterday morning. Come on down — there’s plenty of space!


Speaking of flowers: This week’s Westport Garden Club #Friday Flowers decorations are at Nevada Hitchcock Park *the corner of Cross Highway and Weston Road).

Two great factoids: The park honors Hitchcock, a founding member of the club. And the flowers — from the gardens of Andi Turner, Janice Yost and Topsy Siderowf — are pollinators. This is National Pollinator Week.

(Photo/Topsy Siderowf)


Meanwhile, the Pop’TArt gallery downtown had a low-key opening last night for its new “Scheherezade: The Shapes of Stories” sculpture exhibition. It will be up for the next month.

It’s outdoors — to the delight of at least one young, budding art lover.


When COVID forced shutdowns and program closures, STAR went to work.

For the past 68 years, the organization has provided services and support to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families.

During the pandemic. STAR’s 45-minute Zoom classes kept clients and their loved ones connected and involved.

Westport participants have included Yvonne O’Kane, who taught cupcake decorating; artist Miggs Burroughs, State Senator Will Haskell, and Wakeman Town Farm. There’s been live music too, along with virtual dance parties.

Kudos to STAR, for this innovative, important programming — and to all who help make it work. Click here for more information.


And finally … Happy jUNe Day!

COVID-19 Roundup: Westport Rocks, German Blues, Mystic Market, Meditation, STAR And More

Jen Greely and Lindsay Weiner rock!

In more ways than one. Their new project — Westport Rocks —  spreads joy all around town.

The women encourage everyone to paint rocks with colorful, encouraging messages — then leave them for others to find.

But that’s not all. To share the spirit, they’ve created “virtual gathering spaces” for everyone’s creations. Before leaving your rocks, take a photo. Then upload them to the website, Instagram and Facebook page.

It’s a community project — and one that entire families can enjoy. For more info, email westportctrocks@gmail.com.


On Sunday, I posted a wonderful video of 1970 Staples High School grad — and Seattle Opera star — Stephen Wall lifting up his neighbors with beautiful Italian opera.

Now Stephen sends along this clip of his former Smoke bandmate — and ’71 SHS alum — Jeffrey Dowd. He’s spent the last 40-plus years singing opera around the world, from his home base in Germany.

Here’s his important (and funny) message on social distancing. It’s a new spin on Fats Waller’s classic song. And no, Fats never sang opera.


The Gillespie Center needs 23 meals a day — but they no longer have access to the kitchen they use.

Fortunately, they’ve teamed up with Mystic Market. The great Saugatuck spot makes all the meals, each day. They’d love to donate them all — but unfortunately they can’t afford to.

Fortunately, with their new app and website, anyone can help. You can buy 1 meal for 1 person; all 23 meals for a day; all the meals for a week — even all the meals for a month.

Click here for the website. Choose “Takeout” as if you’re ordering; then scroll to the meal donation section.

To order via the app (easier): download the app, search for “Mystic Market Westport.” Just look for the “Meal Donation” button — the one with 2 hands holding a heart (below).


Among the many Westporters who have reached out to others in the pandemic: helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through STAR.

Chef Lisa Finn from Wakeman Town Farm, Yvonne O’Kane, Miggs Burroughs, MoCA and Zumba Westport YMCA all offer virtual classes via Zoom for STAR participants.

They — and the entire STAR staff — are grateful. For more information (including how to help), email jthompson@starct.org.

Miggs Burroughs teaches art by Zoom.


Dr. Allen Levy is a psychotherapist, clinical social worker and modern psychoanalyst. He has been in private practice since 1978, the last 20 years in Westport.

He has long offered free meditation classes in Bay Street office. Now he’s providing them, via Zoom, to the community (Fridays 12-1 p.m., Mondays 8-9 p.m.). They appeal to spiritually minded people, as well as professionally minded scientists.

Dr. Levy also offers psychotherapy sessions through Telehealth. For more information on his meditation classes and therapy sessions, click here.

Dr. Allen Levy


This time of year, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce usually gears up for big events. Now they’re busy rearranging them.

The May 31 Dog Festival has been pushed back to October 4.

The May Supper & Soul is canceled. The next one is set for November.

The annual First Citizen Award gala dinner will be held in the fall, instead of June.

All in-person networking events are being run virtually.  The first one is next  Thursday (April 16, 9 a.m.). Click here for details.

Slice of Saugatuck, meanwhile, is still on as of now. Save the date: Saturday, September 12.

For more Chamber information — including their list of restaurants and markets that are open for curbside and/or delivery — click here.


Around town, there seems to be some confusion over what “social distancing” means. Six feet apart should be pretty clear — even on an outdoor walk.

Need a photo? Mary Sikorski provides one. Just follow what these guys are doing on the Longshore golf course:


And finally, give it up for the awesome O’Jays as they offer both an inspirational message, and the greatest bell bottoms in the history of fashion:

COVID-19 Roundup: 5K Run; Easter Bunny STARs; Videos, And More

Bruce Geller sends this great story about Drew Gordon, a 6th grader at Weston Middle School.

Her dad, Brian Gordon — former Staples High basketball star, University of Pennsylvania class president, noted entrepreneur and Weston 2nd selectman — died in 2018.

But that has not stopped Drew from thinking about how to help others. Recently, she had a great idea to aid frontline healthcare workers: a 5K run, which people could complete on their own. The “race” — with a $5 entry fee — took place yesterday.

The course was up to each runner. Times were submitted on the honor system. Over 100 people participated, and Drew raised more than $1,200.

Her dad would be very proud of her. 06880, 06883 — and healthcare workers everywhere — are too!

Drew Gordon’s Instagram, announcing the 5K run.


Also yesterday: STAR Lighting the Way staff, board members and friends hopped into cars, for a special Easter Parade.

Their route took them to every STAR group residence, for people with developmental disabilities. There are several homes in Westport.

Residents and staff at each were greeted by the Easter bunny, signs offering support and thanks to the staff, a box of sweets, a special STAR face mask, and a bottle of Purell.


The 3rd installment of #WestportConnected is online. There are messages of encouragement, photos of folks doing neighborly things, and businesses letting everyone know they’re still open.

Stores, bell ringers, thanks givers — all are represented in the 4-minute montage.

Just click below. And if you’d like to be part of next week’s video, send a photo or video (10 seconds or less) to westportconnected@gmail.com


We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Restaurants and small businesses need our help now, more than ever.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce is doing what it can, in many ways. Among them: frequent reminders that local restaurants and markets are open, for curbside and takeout dining.

Check out executive director Matthew Mandell’s video. It took some work getting all these folks on tape, but it’s one more reminder that we’re all in this together.


Spotted by Mary Sikorski yesterday on Imperial Avenue, this colorful, hopeful and welcome sign:


And finally, what better way to start the week — even in awful weather — than with a little Bob Marley:

COVID Roundup: Fields Monitoring; Free Coding Class; Mask Making; Easter Baskets; STAR Funding; More

Beginning yesterday, town personnel are monitoring facilities closely. The goal: making sure that physical distance standards are adhered to by all.

Director Jen Fava says, “We continue to find people not only using our closed facilities, like athletic fields, courts, and other recreational areas, but also gathering in groups at these and other Parks & Rec and school facilities. In addition, there continues to be an issue with people not having dogs on leash.

“Parks and Recreation Department staff, in conjunction with school security staff and the Westport Police Department, will monitor the facilities to ensure compliance in an effort to protect the health and safety of our residents. Any non-compliance with staff will be referred to the Westport Police Department.”

Crowds have been gathering at the Staples football field, among other venues.


Looking for a new hobby, for yourself or your kids?

Learn to code — for free.

Staples High School Class of 1992 graduate Mark Lassoff has made a career offering tech ed videos online. Now he’s paying it forward.

Lassoff’s Fairfield-based Framework TV COVID-19 Code Camp teaches digital skills like coding, web development and digital design — for free. No prior experience is needed.

Video lessons and activities are offered 4 times a week. It’s interactive: Participants get to know each other, and ask questions of instructors.

For more information and registration, click here.

Mark Lassoff


For the past 2 years, Virginia Jaffe helped make costumes for the Greens Farms Elementary School play. Now she and her fellow designers are putting their creative skills to use by making masks for men and women on the front lines — in food stores, markets, hospitals, medical offices and the like.

Virginia, Jurga Subaciute, Marisa Zer and Taran Gulliksen set up production lines in their homes. They make over 100 masks a day. “We’re home schooling, house cleaning and meal making,” she says. “But we can also cut fabric and sew.”

As national and state officials urge Americans to wear masks, the need will grow.

The women need unused flat 5mm or thin rope elastic. Colors do not matter.

In addition, they’re looking for people with sewing machines who wants to help. “We’ll give you instructions and patterns for making masks,” Virginia says. “And we will coordinate where they need to be sent.”

If you can’t sew but want to get involved through a financial contribution (to purchase fabric, threads and elastic directly from a Norwalk supplier who offers heavily discounted prices), see below.

If you know of a group of local front line workers who need masks, she’d like to know too.

To donate elastic and/or funds, offer to help, or suggest recipients, email Westportmasks@yahoo.com.


With all that’s going on, add another stress: how to fill an Easter basket.

Savvy+Grace’s doors are closed. But energetic, creative owner Annette Norton offers safe (curbside pickup) for orders. And every one includes a solid chocolate bunny!

Email savvyandgracewestport@gmail.com. Include:

  • Your full name and cell phone
  • The age, name and gender of the gift recipient
  • The gift recipient’s size (top and bottom)
  • The recipient’s interests (dance, theater, type of sport, etc.)
  • Pierced ears? Likes jewelry?
  • Any other info that might be helpful.

Annette will text back with photos and prices, for your perfect basket.

Annette Norton is ready for Easter.


Laura Blair is one of STAR’s best fundraisers. This time of year, she’s usually a familiar figure outside stores and Staples sports contests, collecting pledges and donations for the annual Walk, 5K and Roll at Sherwood Island State Park.

STAR serves individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. The event helps support 12 group homes and 10 apartments, assisting 110 people with independent living, plus training and job placement to nearly 250 adults.

This year, the fundraiser is online. Click here to help Laura reach her $15,000 goal.

Laura Blair is a fundraising STAR.


And finally, what better way to end the week than with the wonderful Louis Armstrong:

COVID-19 Roundup: Virtual Dance Party Tonight; Face Mask Collection; Business News; How To Help; Staples Rocks; The Ospreys (!) And More

Joe Agostino, an enthusiastic participant in the STAR program for people with disabilities, is a budding DJ. Tonight (Saturday, March 21. 6:30 to 7 p.m.) he’s hosting a Facebook Live Virtual Dance Party, in celebration of World Down Syndrome Day. Go to Facebook; search for @djjoegetdown — then get down!


Need a delivery of food? Medications? Toilet paper (the holy grail)?

Cup of Sugar can help. Its mission is simple: make deliveries for those who need them.

It’s simple — just click here, then click “Request a Delivery.” I’m not sure who is behind this, but for many people it could be a literal life saver.


She la la in Playhouse Square is closed. But the popular store placed a box by the front door. They’re collecting N95 masks, face shields, wipes and sanitizers for health professionals and first responders. If you’ve got some to spare — give generously!


With shipments coming in to Compo Farm this week and next, “06880” reader Peter Huggins says, “It would be great if people order flowers for delivery both to help a local business survive, and make their homes a little happier in these troubling times.”


Stacey Henske is helping ease isolation, loneliness, fear and anxiety among seniors. Kids, teenagers, adults — anyone — can write poetry, letters, short stories, essays, cards, illustrations or anything else that can be slipped under a door.

They can be dropped in a bin by the front door at 10 Poplar Plains Road, off Wilton Road. If you can’t leave the house, email staceyhenske@gmail.com; she’ll arrange for pickup. PS: Please don’t lick any envelopes!


Logan Goodman is a Bedford Middle School 8th grader with a great business customizing sneakers. Some designs are her own; others are based on famous artists’ works.

With time on her hands, she’s eager for work. Check out her Instagram (@lacedbylogan), then DM her for details.


The UPS store at 606 Post Road East next to Dunkin Donuts is considered an “essential business.” It remains open, offering printing, scanning, faxing and notary. For anyone working from home, those services can be truly essential.


Starbucks may or may not be an “essential business.” But dozens of Westporters believe it is.

They’ve voted with their feet — well, their tires. This was the scene on the Post Road at 10:45 this morning.

Gotta have that quad long shot grande in a venti cup half calf double cupped no sleeve salted caramel mocha latte with 2 pumps of vanilla substitute 2 pumps of white chocolate mocha for mocha and substitute 2 pumps of hazelnut for  toffee nut half whole milk and half breve with no whipped cream extra hot extra foam extra caramel drizzle extra salt add a scoop of vanilla bean powder with light ice  — well stirred!

(Photo/John McKinney)


Not long ago, Westporter James Mapes created a 2-disk toolkit, all about helping users manage stress.

In these stressful times, he’s giving away the download to the first 20 healthcare workers who email him (jjm195@aol.com). Include your affiliation, please. For more info, click here.


Remember all those stories you’ve heard about the bands that played at Staples High School: the Doors, Cream, Sly & the Family Stone, Animals, Rascals and Yardbirds?

Remember the 2017 documentary produced by Staples grad Fred Cantor, and directed by another alum, Casey Denton? Remember how mad you were that you missed its showings in Westport?

Now — thanks to Cantor and Denton, and their desire to bring a bit of rock joy into socially isolated America — you can relive (or learn about) those amazing days.

They’ve made it available — free — on YouTube. Just click below.

And even if you’re quarantined in your room, start dancing.


Running out of things to do? Board games are great — and right around the corner.

Looking for educational toys for your schooling-in-place child? They’re right around the corner too.

Amazing Toys in Compo Shopping Center offers curbside service. So does Age of Reason on Post Road West — and they deliver (within reason). Just call ahead!


Hank May’s Tire & Auto Centers offer curbside drop-off and pick up. Call ahead to be checked in by phone. Cars can also be dropped off before or after hours. Leave keys and information in the night drop box; they’ll call back.


This has absolutely nothing to with the coronavirus, other than raising everyone’s spirits when we need it most.

Alert “06880” reader Lynn Wilson reports that the ospreys are back at Fresh Market!

The 2019 ospreys. (Photo/Carolyn McPhee)

Westport Y Puts Special Focus On Special Needs

Every day — at all hours — the Westport Weston Family YMCA pulses with activity.

The gym, pool, spin center, yoga and fitness rooms — all are filled with boys and girls, men and women, all active to whatever degree of intensity works for them.

It’s a friendly, vibrant place. Many members come regularly. They greet fellow basketball players, swimmers, runners and Zumbaists with smiles and waves.

Some of the heartiest greetings go to members with special needs. They may be in wheelchairs, or come in groups with aides. They may talk loudly, or not at all. All are welcome at the Y.

Enjoying the gym at the Westport Weston Family Y.

Their swims, workouts, classes and social interactions are among the highlights of their days. The folks who share the pool, fitness center and classrooms are happy to see them too.

The Westport Y offers group membership programs to 5 group homes in Fairfield County. Over 100 clients take advantage of the facility off Wilton Road.

Membership director Brian Marazzi says that STAR has the longest association with the Y: more than a decade. Clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities take part in a wide array of activities. Some arrive independently, to exercise.

STAR clients, outside the Westport Y.

St. Catherine Academy — a Fairfield-based private school — uses the warm pool for recreational swim and aqua-therapy for severely disabled clients. The group then socializes with a large group lunch in the lobby.

St. Catherine’s appreciates the family and dependent care locker room, which includes a private special needs shower and changing room. Staff also store equipment at the Y.

Ability Beyond and Keystone House clients focus on the Wellness Center. Members of Abilis — the newest group home to join the Y — primarily walk on the treadmill, and use the gym.

Some of the more independent clients come on their own. A few have become volunteers themselves, meeting and greeting guests.

But that’s only part of the way the Westport Y serves the special needs population.

Sixty kids and young adults ages 8 to 21 play basketball and floor hockey, swim and do track and field, under the guidance of paid and volunteer coaches. Many are involved in Special Olympics, but that is not a prerequisite for Y participation.

A special needs swimmer, and an equally enthusiastic volunteer.

The Sunday morning swim program is particularly popular. A 1:1 ratio of volunteers — many of them members of the Westport Water Rats team — to athletes ensures education, safety and fun. The special needs swimmers are also called Water Rats, and proudly wear the team’s logowear.

Strong bonds are clear. Over Christmas break, as volunteers returned from college, there were joyful reunions and hugs. Parents of special needs swimmers develop their own community too, as they watch from the deck or gym.

Oliver Clachko has made a special impact. He was last year’s near-unanimous choice as Westport Weston Family Y Volunteer of the Year. He enjoys working with the special needs program so much, he’s recruiting friends and classmates to help too.

This spring, the Y hosts its first-ever special needs swim meet.

The Westport Y Water Rat Special Olympics swim team.

Up in the gym, basketball players hone their skills. They compete too, in a “Hoopla” against other area Ys.

Special Needs Teen Nights are another popular event.

Marazzi says the Y has gotten very positive feedback — from clients, group home workers, parents of special needs youngsters, and other Y members too.

Occasionally, he says, members complain about noise or behavior. Marazzi quickly counters, “We love having them here. We’re very inclusive.”

It’s the Westport Weston Family YMCA, remember.

And don’t forget: There are many ways to define family.

(The Westport Y’s Special Olympics and other special needs programs rely in part on fundraising. Starting on her 10th birthday, Chloe Kiev asked that instead of gifts, friends and family donate to the effort. Click here for more information.) 

Pic Of The Day #689

Nearly every night, there’s a worthy fundraiser.

One of the best each year is the Galaxy of Gourmets. Sponsored by STAR Lighting the Way — the advocacy and support organization that since 1952 has helped individuals of all ages with developmental disabilities live full, independent lives — it’s a night of fantastic food, wine and craft beer. A couple dozen area restaurants and caterers turn Aitoro’s Appliances in Norwalk into a wonderful party room.

There’s live music too, from Rubberband and the Suburban Chaos Band. The groups include STAR clients.

Make no mistake:  They’re good. The place rocked. Rubberband: You guys are STARs!

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Cy And Joyce Brigish Star In A Book

In 1968, Alan and Joyce Brigish had their first child. When Cy was diagnosed with Down syndrome, many people advised them to put him in an institution, then go on with their lives.

Against the prevailing wisdom of the day, the couple decided to keep their family together.

They spent years advocating for a child who was not like most others. They also offered him every opportunity to reach his potential educationally, socially and spiritually.

Cy Brigish

Every day there were challenges, frustrations and triumphs. While raising Cy — and her 2 other children, Hal and Jackie, in Westport — Joyce also worked for the inclusion of all people with disabilities.

She did it with patience, kindness, diligence and fortitude. In doing so, she helped change public sentiment concerning people who, historically, were marginalized.

STAR, Inc. Lighting the Way has long been a big part of Cy’s life. Established in 1952 by parents who believed that children with intellectual and developmental disabilities were entitled to the same basic opportunities as other children, today STAR is a not-for-profit organization with a full array of services for over 600 people from birth to their senior years — and for their families.

STAR helps those individuals live full lives with independence, freedom of choice and personal growth. Services include early intervention for infants and preschoolers; family support; job assessment and training; recreation and leisure activities, and support to adults in group homes and apartments.

The other day, Alan donated copies of a book to STAR. It’s called “Joyce’s Way: Finding Normality Despite Disability.”

Written by Susan Klein, it’s the story of his wife. Klein shows how Joyce and her family helped Cy reach his potential, while helping pioneer a new way of seeing people with disabilities.

STAR, in turn, donated copies of “Joyce’s Way” to local libraries.

Today, Cy — a star STAR client — works 2 jobs: at Garavel Chrysler Jeep and Panera Bread. He lives independently, and recently turned 50.

Joyce was not there that day. She died of cancer in 2016.

But her legacy of inclusion, advocacy and love remains. Now it lives on, in the pages of the book her husband donated to STAR, and which will be passed along, far and wide.

(To order o copy of “Joyce’s Way,” click here. For information about STAR, including how to donate or volunteer, click here or call 203-846-9581, ext. 302.)

Walk, Run & Roll Is A True Team Triumph

The 5k Walk, Run & Roll is one of the greatest fundraisers of the year.

Over 800 men, women and children flock to Sherwood Island to raise money for STAR — the local organization that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, through job training, scholarships and enrichment programs.

But some of the folks most impacted by STAR have not been able to take part in an endurance event.

This year’s 13th annual Walk, Run & Roll — set for Sunday, May 6 (Sherwood Island State Park, 10 a.m.) — solves that problem. And it does so in an ingenious, inclusive way.

STAR has partnered with myTeam Triumph — an athletic ride-along program for children, teens and adults (including veterans) with disabilities. These “captains” are fitted with a safe, comfortable specialized racing chair. They’re joined by “angels,” who fundraise for, run alongside and guide them through the race.

This Sunday’s event — the first for the state chapter — includes well-known Westport captains Wyatt Davis, Jenna Herbst and Stefan Esposito, plus Weston’s Jonathan Piazza.

Stefan Esposito and his brother Christophe, on a training run.

Westporter Curtis Lueker — myTeam Triumph Connecticut chapter founder — will join over 2 dozen members in the run.

“This is all about inclusion,” he says. “Our angels and volunteers get to know the captains. They spend time during training runs, and hanging out. The captains and the families are the stars.”

During the week, Lueker is head of commercial markets for a private New York bank. But his passion is endurance racing, and giving back to his community.

He raced short distance from 1999 to 2013, when he moved to Westport. He joined Total Training & Endurance, and has completed 2 Ironman races, plus 50K and 50-mile trail runs. His 3rd Ironman is this July.

Fifteen years ago, after struggling to complete his first short-distance triathlon, he saw a father and disabled son race together in a longer distance triathlon. When he saw them again on HBO Sports, they became his heroes.

Lueker later found Team Triumph, and formed Connecticut’s chapter.

His involvement has given him great insights, he says. His 3 young kids — all of whom will join him on Sunday — get it too.

“We live in an amazing town with many luxuries,” he says. “We lead lives that many would die to have. Yet we complain about our commute, our job, the lunches served at school. Meeting captains and their families with real challenges really puts things into perspective.

“I’ve also seen how people with disabilities often don’t feel included in the community. MyTeam Triumph can’t solve that issue. But we can make an impact.”

(A 1K route is suitable for walkers, strollers, wheelchairs and baby joggers. The 5K race includes  prizes for the top finishers in each age group. Attendees enjoy a continental breakfast, live music, arts and crafts, kids’ fun bus, face painting, balloon sculpting, yard games and lunch. To register to run, walk or stroll, or donate to an existing team, click hereFor more information on myTeam Triumph, click here, email clueker@myteamtriumph-ct.org, or call 646-330-1235.)

For Wyatt Davis, State Budget Cuts Literally Hit Home

Wyatt Davis got the most out of Staples High School.

He hosted a weekly radio show on WWPT-FM. He was an avid member of Best Buddies and the Photography Club, and the football team’s most ardent fan. Nearly every staff member and student knew him — and all loved him.

Not bad for a young man who — because of cerebral palsy — cannot speak, or use his extremities.

Wyatt Davis in 2011, at the WWPT-FM controls.

Wyatt is 21 years old. That’s the age limit for high school special education services. He graduated last June (while also attending community college).

In normal times, he’d move to a program like STAR. Like similar organizations around the state serving those with intellectual/developmental disabilities, its services would help Wyatt transition to the “real world.”

But these are not normal times.

In the absence of a state budget, Wyatt — and over 200 recent high school graduates like him — have been stranded in a hellish limbo.

“Wyatt uses a wheelchair for mobility, and needs 24/7 assistance to meet his basic health care needs,” says STAR executive director Katie Banzhaf.

But, she adds, “I don’t think of Wyatt that way. To me and all of us who know him, we see an amazing young man who loves photography (he takes great photos with adaptive devices), loves his iPad, has a great sense of humor, and will absolutely charm his way into your heart.”

Wyatt Davis and his friend Taylor Harrington, watching a Staples baseball game.

Through STAR — which he became involved with last year — he has attended photography and music classes, and engaged in many activities.

But state legislators have not yet passed a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. Governor Malloy’s interim budget cut funding for places like STAR by up to 18%.

Now Wyatt mostly stays home.

His parents have paid privately for STAR services, 3 days a week. They have other pressing needs — including Wyatt’s other health expenses, and a daughter in law school — and cannot afford that for much longer.

A little snow doesn’t stop Wyatt Davis from enjoying the slopes.

The other option is for his father or mother to quit their job, to stay home with Wyatt. But that won’t help him grow, develop and make friends.

“We’re trying to raise awareness and funds from the community so Wyatt can return to STAR for at least 1 to 2 months,” Banzhaf says. “That will give us time to find additional resources, so he can stay as long as he needs us.”

United  Way of Coastal Fairfield County — and an anonymous donor’s contribution of $1,000 — have ensured that after major hip surgery last month, Wyatt can join STAR again next next week.

The organization hopes other neighbors and friends will help too. To donate — or for more information — call Peter Saverine, STAR director of philanthropy, at 203-846-9581, ext. 302, or email psaverine@starct.org.