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Vol. 78 • No. 3 Summer 2017

Service Learning Projects With Starr Albion Prep Independence and Circle of Courage® Camp Ready Readers Donor Spotlight: Erick Stewart Alumni Spotlight: Joanna Holtzman

Starr News

starr commonwealth leadership Officers

Board of Trustees

Elizabeth A. Carey President Chief Executive Officer

Craig Carrel, Chair (2008 – 2021) President and Partner Team 1 Plastics Albion, MI

Dudley N. Spade Chief of Staff Thomas F. Tate Chief Operating Officer

Honorable John Hallacy, Immediate Past Chair (2009 – 2019) Circuit Court Judge 37th District Court Battle Creek, MI Erick Stewart Vice Chair (2009 – 2018) President Stewart Industries LLC Battle Creek, MI Bruce Vande Vusse, Secretary (2009 – 2018) Attorney Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C. Southfield, MI Stanley Allen (2014 – 2023) Configuration Engineering Wells Fargo & Company Des Moines, IA Scott Bennett (2010 – 2019) Senior Vice President Wealth Management UBS Financial Services Birmingham, MI

Doug Clark (2013 – 2022) Executive Director, Donor Mktg U.S. Office of Development Cru International Camano Island, WA

Trustees Emeritus

President Emeritus

Michael J. Gable Human Resources Executive (Retired) Orlans Associates, PC Troy, MI

Martin L. Mitchell President Emeritus Coldwater, MI

George A. Goodman (2010 – 2019) Ypsilanti, MI

George D. Goodman Executive Director (Retired) Michigan Municipal League Ann Arbor, MI

Laura Koziarski (2013-2022) Child Advocate Battle Creek, MI

Dr. Russell G. Mawby Chairman Emeritus W.K. Kellogg Foundation Battle Creek, MI

Huilan Krenn (2017 – 2026) W.K. Kellogg Foundation Director of Learning & Impact Battle Creek, MI

Honorable Eugene A. Moore Chief Probate Judge (Retired) Oakland County Pontiac, MI

Randy Neumann (2013 – 2022) Vice President J.F. Daley, Inc. San Antonio, TX Mary E. Rutan (2013 – 2022) Human Resources Director (Retired) Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

Arlin E. Ness President Emeritus Anthem, AZ *All Officers and Trustees can be reached at the following address and phone number: Starr Commonwealth 13725 Starr Commonwealth Road Albion, MI 49224 (517) 629-5591

William K. Stoffer Chairman and CEO (Retired) Albion Machine & Tool Co. Albion, MI

Honorary Trustees Anne Willson Dupré Granddaughter of Floyd Starr Toronto, Canada Diana Starr Langley Montecito, CA

Starr is dedicated to the mission of creating positive environments where children and families flourish. Starr News Summer 2017 Volume 78 • No. 3 Starr Commonwealth is a nonprofit organization serving children and families regardless of race, religion, color or national origin. Starr Commonwealth is accredited by the Council on Accreditation. Founded in 1913, Starr is licensed by the state of Michigan. The Albion campus is a Michigan Historic Site. Starr Commonwealth receives funds from social agencies, foundations, corporations and individuals. 13725 Starr Commonwealth Rd. Albion, MI 49224-9525 800.837.5591


Table of Contents

President’s Letter 3 Service Learning Projects With Starr Albion Prep


Independence and Circle of Courage® 7 Camp Ready Readers


Donor Spotlight: Erick Stewart


Alumni Spotlight: Joanna Holtzman


Honor and Memorial Gifts


Summer 2017

president’s letter Independence


h, to be a child again. As you recall childhood, perhaps you have fond memories of carefree days without work and major responsibilities. On the other hand, maybe your memories are of rules you did not make, of controls that you could not skirt, or feelings of helplessness. For many of us, there are both types of memories and layers of everything in between. As humans, we are born helpless. We must rely on our caretakers for everything we need to grow. As we grow, we learn to do some things for ourselves. Eventually, we strive to make our own decisions; we want the controls of our lives to be in our hands. We want to have self-determination. This transition, from child to adult, from helpless to autonomous, does not happen overnight. It takes time, practice and adequate brain development. We slowly begin to walk without holding a grown-ups hand, we complete a task by ourselves, we enroll in classes of our choosing, we learn to drive a car, and we start our first jobs. As we grow, we take on more responsibilities, we begin to make choices and, of course, we fail and learn from our mistakes. Moreover, for most of us, we had support through all of it. My journey involved hardships as a child and adversity as a young person but I also had strong, loving supporters, teaching me and sharing knowledge. Those challenges allowed me an early step towards taking some control, carrying responsibilities and learning that I could do it, whatever it was. I learned courage. My life experiences taught me independence. For children and youth who have experienced early adversity, trauma and pain, their journey towards independence is chaotic. Some had to ‘grow up fast’ and be independent long before they were ready and capable by taking care of themselves and others even when not allowed to truly

control their own destiny. Some might have had a supporter that helped, such as a teacher, a foster parent, a social worker, or extended family. The science of brain development tells us that even a nurtured brain matures slowly and one that has been neglected or harmed can truly be delayed. For the youth Starr serves and supports, teaching independence and sharing opportunities for them to make positive choices for themselves is critical to their success. Healing the pain of forced independence and allowing for self-determination with support is how they learn to flourish. Over the last year, we have been exploring with each of you the four universal needs of our youth (and of ourselves) of Belonging, Mastery, Independence and Generosity – The Circle of Courage®. These universal needs must be met for us to thrive. We have highlighted Generosity (Winter 2017) and Mastery (Spring 2017), and this issue focuses on Independence. Webster-Merriman dictionary lists the following words as synonyms for Independence: autonomy, freedom, self-determination, potency, power, resilience and strength. I see our young people as strong, powerful, resilient leaders who are creating their paths towards health, wellness and success. They are courageous and courage can be contagious. Please continue to be courageous with us as we support our young people. Each of them is a success story waiting to be told. Sincerely,

Elizabeth Carey, President and CEO


Service Learning Projects With Starr Albion Prep


t Starr, we believe that every child is a success story waiting to happen. By building

them up, we teach them that they are worthwhile, and we are able to help them grow into amazing, independent people. There are many ways we work with our students to boost their confidence and desire to help others, but one that we have focused on since Uncle Floyd’s time is our variety of service learning projects. Starr Albion Prep is the residential program on our historic Albion campus. For over 100 years, we have served students by extinguishing hurtful behaviors and helping them develop lifestyles in which they contribute to the greater good. We refer to this lifestyle change as developing “Social Interest” – a genuine concern for others that will help them become responsible and caring members of society. Practicing the attributes of “Social Interest” is a big part of what we do.


service learning projects

Young people in Starr’s programs participate in hundreds of service learning projects throughout the year. They learn that all of us have a responsibility to contribute to our communities, and that by working together they can accomplish great things.

their confidence in their own abilities. We also take the students on our campus over to Jackson to work at the Jackson Interfaith Shelter. Here, boys and girls serve food to the homeless population of the city. They interact with people who are in situations

Starr’s emphasis upon social interest is much different

that may be familiar to our students, and are able to

from court ordered “community service,” which often

provide food and comfort to them. “I get to help out

represents on a one-time sentence by the court. That

in ways that I have never helped before,” said one boy

type of activity is usually time-limited and not intended

about the experience.

to shape a lifestyle change.

Not every service learning project takes place that far

Many of our service learning projects take our students out into the local neighborhoods. With the Community Action Agency, students travel to towns around Albion, such as Coldwater or

away, though. With the Adopt-A-Lawn project, boys and girls from Starr Albion Prep “adopt” elderly residents in the Albion community and rake their yards, mow their lawns, and plant flow-

Battle Creek, to help

ers in the spring. When

box up non-perishable

asked about this project,

foods for those who

one young man replied,

cannot afford groceries.

“I love it, because you

Members of the com-

get to give and the smiles

munity are then able to

you get in return.”

come and pick up their

The work is hard some-

boxes, or have the boys

times, but they can easily

and girls on hand to help

step back when they are

load up their vehicles.

done and see how much

Projects like this one

better the lawn looks.

teach our students to think about those who

Some of the boys doing yard work at Starr Albion.

are less fortunate than they are, and look for ways to help them. “It makes me feel better about myself knowing I’m helping someone,” one student told a staff member on the way back to Albion. By showing them how they can positively affect the public through volunteer work, we are building up

More importantly, they can see the joy on the

faces of the homeowners, who otherwise would not have been able to have a yard like this. “I enjoy helping out others in the world who need help and don’t have resources to help themselves.” Some of our projects are even on the Albion campus.


service learning projects

Recently, one of our senior clinicians led a cottage of

sponsibility of each girl to keep her feeder full of bird

girls through painting and decorating birdhouses and

seed, which helps build up a sense of accountability and

feeders that will be hung around campus. “The girls seem to really benefit from Art Therapy; being able


to express and communicate their thoughts and feel-

With each of these projects, we are working to show

ings without needing to find the words,” said Elizabeth

our students that they are capable of making a positive

Webster, Senior Clinician. “This project is also to help promote mindfulness and awareness of our student’s surroundings. Prior to the project, most of the girls

impact on the lives of others. They are not just the negative experiences that brought them to our campus –

were unaware of the birds that do visit the campus

they can be more, and we strive to show each student

(their names, colors, and songs they sing).” It is the re-

that it has always been inside of them. F

Some of the birdhouses painted by the students. Photo by Elizabeth Webster.


Independence and the Circle of Courage


The Circle of CourageÂŽ model is the resilience-

ity. Adults modeled, nurtured and taught important

focused philosophical foundation for the way Starr

values, but children were given abundant opportunities

designed to encourage kids to feel safe

of understanding and acceptance.



and comfortable in an environment



works with the youth in our care. It is

require to be emotionally well. Only



are the universal needs all people

when these four needs are met are our circles complete. Independence is an important part of growing into an emotionally healthy adult. In contrast with Western


tery, independence, and generosity


Courage states that belonging, mas-

When working with children who

have experienced rough and traumatic childhoods, teaching independence

Developed from the cultural wisdom of the Lakota people, the Circle of

to make choices on their own.

is very important. Letting them learn to make their own decisions allows these children to feel in control of themselves, which in turn helps them work through their trauma. Through

this control they learn to trust themselves and their own reactions in order to better understand what they need.

culture, tribal teachings meant respecting the right for

By helping children understand themselves and grow

independence and building inner discipline. Children

to trust their instincts, we build their independence. By

raised in this manner were encouraged to make deci-

creating independent children, we help to create emo-

sions, solve problems, and show personal responsibil-

tionally healthy adults with complete circles. F 7

camp ready readers For the past few years, our Battle Creek staff has put on the Camp Ready Readers program for Calhoun County children. This free day camp helps students in Kindergarten through fifth grade prevent the summer learning slide by actively working on reading, spelling, and grammar. Keeping up these important skills will help students return to school more prepared to learn, improving their overall academic achievement. Funded mainly through donations, the Camp Ready Readers program is able to have several three-week sessions over the course of the summer, with each session serving anywhere from 15-30 kids. These students are provided a morning snack and a free lunch during the program, because we want every child to succeed, and we know at Starr that a hungry student cannot learn. Instructors facilitate learning through various activities, and not all of them involve sitting at a desk. Students do crafts with words they have cut out, play physical games such as throwing a ball with a word on it into a basket, and have quiet reading time where they are allowed to sit in any of the comfy chairs around the room. “It’s really great that we can help them work on their reading skills, but we are also working on social skills, too – sharing, listening,

and helping others are important things that we work on every day,” our clinician, Karol Rosol, said of the program. This year, students received some parting gifts when their session is over: a Super Starr Reading Camp t-shirt, a drawstring bag, and some donated books that they can take home to continue their reading adventure for the rest of the summer. Clients from Starr Battle Creek’s in-home services also served as student volunteers. Those teens helped the clinicians by handing out and collecting papers and crayons, as well as by working with the campers as they did crafts and scavenger hunts over the course of their session. With those leadership roles, our clients were able to work on their own social skills, becoming positive role models, and gaining confidence and independence in their own abilities. Not only is this camp something we enjoy doing in the Calhoun County community, it is effective. 63.6% of students last year showed improvement in the number of accurate words read, and 93.3% of families reported that their child showed an increased interest in reading. With results like this, we plan to hold our Camp Ready Readers program for as long as the community needs us. F

One of the Starr Battle Creek staff reading to the Camp Ready Readers. 8

Donor Spotlight

L to R: Janis White, Erick Stewart, Bob Shumaker, Carol Carrier.

ERICK STEWART has a long history with Starr Commonwealth. The Stewart family has supported Starr for over 25 years, beginning with his mother, Clara Stewart, serving on our Board of Trustees. “My mother’s enthusiasm and direction was rooted in our family’s deep commitment to youth, education, and vulnerable population support,” says Stewart. “My parents believe that all children, regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic status have the right to be loved and supported in life.”

cific program; instead, he admires Starr’s adaptability.

In 2005, Erick was asked to join our Board of Trustees, and he followed his mother’s footsteps. He continues to serve on our Board today, bringing his expertise and community relationships to each discussion.

sional development. These dynamics make Starr what it is

When asked about his time on the board, Erick responded, “It’s an emotional, rewarding, giving experience. When you not only see a person graduate the program, but you see that adult that says they owe their life to the Starr process; it reinforces why we do this work. It’s an honor to create a family legacy around good work and positive outcomes.” Since joining Starr’s Board of Trustees, Erick Stewart has served on six local boards in the Battle Creek area, showing how important service is to him. What attracts Erick the most about Starr is not any spe-

“Residential programming was what Starr was known most for when our family came to this area some 30 years ago. But as the needs of our communities change, so does Starr, while keeping the core of its supportive mission in mind. I would say that what speaks to me the most is Starr’s versatility with regards to supporting the dynamic needs of the ever-changing youth, family, and environment. The organization’s ability to support ranges from counseling, to the development of problem-solving skills, and profestoday in its support of youth.” Being the owner of Stewart Industries, LLC for over 15 years, Erick Stewart knows how to make the most of his money. He knows that to help the children and families in his community, he has to give back to organizations that have proven themselves to be effective in supporting those who need it. “I am most proud that this organization’s skill set is not only effective here in Michigan but has been utilized all over the globe to assist the most vulnerable in time of crisis.” If you would like to become a donor like Erick Stewart, you can support Starr online at F 9

Alumni Spotlight Joanna Holzman started her journey with Starr at Montcalm School on our Albion campus. When she graduated from high school, she applied for a Starr scholarship, and worked hard to get her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Joanna spoke to us recently about her life after Starr and her appreciation for the program and the scholarship opportunities that were open to her, and she has graciously allowed us to tell her story. “When I was in high school my life was spiraling out of control. I was dealing with abuse; I had been the victim of unhealthy ways and my parents decided to send me to Montcalm Boarding School at Starr Commonwealth’s Albion campus. After being blessed with a year to work on myself, I was able to return to my home high school and graduate on time in 2013. “

Joanna Holzman

“After high school I attended the University of

working with students with cognitive disabilities.

Missouri-Columbia where I was able to begin pursu-

While getting to work at my dream job every day, I

ing a career in special education. Although the first

will also begin pursuing my masters at the University

year at college was more difficult for me than it may have been for others, I was able to use the skills I had gained while at Starr to make sure I kept my academic career and emotional stability in check. Over the

Disorders through the College of Education in the Spring of 2018. I hope to one day to return to my hometown of Chicago and work with students with

years I continually made the Dean’s List and was able

behavioral needs like I had.”

to be active in clubs on campus as well as a sorority.

“I was very lucky to have been able to get help at Starr,

I was able to attend college with the help of the Starr scholarship, which saved me from the financial burden most students in college face. It’s funny how, even now, Starr is still helping me to reduce worry in my everyday life!” “I graduated with a bachelors in Cross-Categorical


of Missouri-Columbia in Emotional and Behavioral

and I hope to be able to work with kids who are not as lucky. Starr has left an everlasting positive effect on my life and I will forever be grateful for all the opportunities and doors Starr opened for me.” If you would like to apply for a Starr scholarship, please visit If you would

Special Education K-12 in May of 2017. I now have

like to support our scholarship program, please visit

secured a job in a brand new district classroom F

Honor & Memorial gifts The gifts reflect the period from 5/1/2017 - 8/24/2017. Donors are listed below the name of the person in whose memory or honor they contributed. HONOR & MEMORIAL GIFTS are thoughtful ways to remember a special person or occasion, such as a birth, birthday, anniversary, graduation, Mother’s or Father’s Day, or as an enduring tribute to the memory of a friend or loved one. Extend a helping hand to the children of Starr by making your donation to Starr at

In Honor of: DEREK ALLEN Mr. and Mrs. Michael McElroy LARRY K. BRENDTRO Mr. Don Scott LYNN BROCKLEHURST Mr. Raymond Opezzo RUTH CAREY Ms. May Watanabe GREG CAUSLEY Mr. and Mrs. Delbert Benson BILL AND BONNIE MILLS Mr. Raymond Opezzo

BARBARA PARSON Dr. Larraine Matusak




CAROLYN E. DONAHUE Mr. Glen R. Donahue

JOHN MANIKOFF Mr. Frederick Holt


PATRICIA L. ENDRESS Mr. Richard B. Endress

DONALD E. POTRAFKA Mr. and Mrs. Jack Hixon

MAX S. GRANT Mr. Gordon P. Grant

ROY AND ANITA TALO Mr. Raymond Opezzo



ERVIN WILEE Mrs. Johanna Farley

MARVIN L. COLNESS Mrs. LaVerne I. Colness

WAYNE L. HARTMAN Mrs. Janice Walz

NANCY STARR WISE Dr. and Mrs. Ross Van Ness

DR. HAROLD L. DALY Dr. Miriam S. Daly

DONALD H. LILJE Ms. Betty A. Lilje

In Memory of:

One of our most well-known quotes from founder Floyd Starr is “beauty is a silent teacher.” He used this phrase to explain why he chose the lakeside plot of land in Albion on which to start his organization; he wanted a beautiful place to reflect the inherent beauty of his kids. Born out of this dedication to keeping our planet beautiful, Starr is going more green in 2017. We will publish two beautiful printed editions of the Starr News in 2017 and all four issues this year will be available on our website, social media, and via email! We here at Starr care about our planet, and we truly believe that keeping it healthy for future generations is important. If you would like to receive Starr News through email, please sign up at To read past issues of Starr News, please visit 11

ALUMNI HOMECOMING Saturday October 7, 2017

Our 2017 Alumni Homecoming will be on Saturday, Oct. 7 on our Albion campus! The festivities begin with registration at 10:30 and an alumni brunch at 11:00, followed by a short program at 1:00. We plan on having plenty of time for alumni to meet and mingle with each other, as well as some former staff members who will be coming in for the occasion. For more information, join the Starr Alumni Association Facebook group at:, or email us at

Starr News Summer 2017  

Learn about the Service Learning Projects happening at Starr, how to promote Independence, spotlights on donor Erick Stewart and alumni Joan...

Starr News Summer 2017  

Learn about the Service Learning Projects happening at Starr, how to promote Independence, spotlights on donor Erick Stewart and alumni Joan...