In Our Lives, At Our Dinner Table

Since 1993, Starfire has been an example of inclusion in Cincinnati. Though the way in which we do our work has evolved over the past 23 years, we have remained steadfast in our passion and philosophy of our work.  That is we know that life is more interesting, more beautiful and our communities more complete when we include our friends, neighbors, and family members with disabilities.  Starfire believes that people with disabilities not only deserve a place in our communities, in our lives, and at our dinner tables, but in fact have beautiful gifts to share once invited.

This has been my life’s work over the past 8 years… I have had the privilege to see and be a part of the impact of what happens when people turn off their TVs and turn to each other, when the spark of friendship is ignited through a common interest and when the seeds of love and understanding are planted as people come to belong to each other over time. Our work is in stark contrast to what we see in the world every day: violence, fear, divisive rhetoric, hatred, loneliness, and broken communities.

We are told to fear our neighbors, to be suspicious of those different than us, and to live anonymously among our own kind. Instead this event, and these stories define who we are.

Starfire, and this year of community building projects show us a different way.  A new story: That changing the world can be as simple, as radical, and as revolutionary as quilting with a neighbor like Andrea and MaryAnn, becoming a valued community member like Telly, or planning a bicycling fundraiser like Robbie and Burke.

We know that we cannot force friendship or legislate love but because sponsors and donors invest in our work, because families believe in this work, and because community members and ordinary citizens do this work with us we are changing the very world we live in.  And at it’s a core this is a pretty ordinary way to live.  But the impact on our communities, on our lives, and in the lives of people with disabilities is having an extraordinarily beautiful effect.

Through our stories we see people coming together sharing places, people growing in relationships, people making contributions and choices, and people stepping into valued roles and experiencing respect, one person at a time, one small extraordinary project at a time.

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About Candice Jones Peelman

Cincinnati.
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