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STAR Inc.’s recent purchase of an electric vehicle is one of many steps the nonprofit organization is taking to revitalize and leverage its resources to meet future needs. These changes are possible due to recently awarded grants such as the $374,000 grant from the Governor’s Nonprofit Grant Program that allotted for 10 vehicles — one hybrid, one electric and eight larger accessible vans.
STAR’s Executive Director Katie Banzhaf sees the electric vehicle as a look into STAR’s future: “With the growth of more customized employment and enrichment programs focused on individuals, the dramatic cost savings with electric and hybrid additions to our fleet will help us leverage important financial resources while being environmentally conscious good citizens in our community. We hope to be on the leading edge of transportation changes for people with special needs.”
STAR also received a series of grants totaling more than $1 million from the same governor’s program for a total building makeover. STAR’s Director of Philanthropy Peter Saverine, commented on this windfall, “Each year we have been the lucky recipients of some very generous grants from similar state and city programs for capital investment, transportation and energy-saving improvements. We walked around the building and made a wish list of everything that needed fixing and decided to ask for the entire wish list. We were thrilled to have all of our wishes granted.”
The newest addition to STAR’s fleet of more than 50 vehicles, receiving the most buzz is the Chevrolet Bolt EV, purchased from Karl Chevrolet of New Canaan. The Bolt will dramatically increase fuel efficiency and decrease maintenance expenses long term. The vehicle will be used for short trips bringing STAR participants to individualized and customized services such as jobs or volunteering in the community, medical appointments, classes and wellness activities. This will replace the use of larger, less fuel inefficient vans when transporting only one or two people.