A group of concerned women from the Junior League of Waterloo-Cedar Falls recognized that there was simply no alternative to nursing home placement for area elders, and in many cases nursing home care was premature or unnecessary. Under the leadership of a Junior League task force and other civic-minded volunteers, along with the Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging (now knows as NEI3A), who served as the registered office and sponsor; the pioneering idea of an adult day care facility was born, under the umbrella of a newly formed not-for-profit agency, Adults Care., Inc.
On August 4, 1975, Newel Post Senior Adult Day Services opened its doors. Originally located in Calvary United Methodist Church at East 4th and Newell Streets in Waterloo, it was the first adult day care center in Iowa and remains the only one in the Cedar Valley. The name Newel Post was chosen because a “newel post” is a strong post, supporting the handrails of a stairway as it climbs upward and symbolizes the first step to a better life.
On September 6, 1977, to reduce school overcrowding at River Hills School in Cedar Falls, and to comply with a recent federal law requiring community integration and adult-appropriate services for adults with moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities, the agency opened the Key VII program, originally located at 209 LaPorte Road in Waterloo (formerly Balko’s Appliance Center and a laundromat). It was called Key VII because it served people in the counties served by then Area Education Agency 7 and offered the “key” to a more independent future. The program moved to West 11th & Washington Streets in Waterloo (formerly Gordy’s Food Store) in 1980, but the location was acquired by the D.O.T. for relocated Highway 218 in 1985. This led to the move to current building at 3420 University Avenue in Waterloo. This program is what is today’s Day Habilitation program in Waterloo.
On Monday, March 14, 1988 North Star opened its first satellite office on the corner of West Bremer Avenue and 4th Street SW in Waverly, the site of a former nightclub. Originally named the “Center for Community Integration of Bremer County,” the Waverly Center was developed to serve adults with disabilities from Bremer and surrounding counties closer to the places they lived. In 2004, the Waverly Center relocated to its current location at the north end of the Willow Lawn Mall (219-20th Street NW).
How we provide services to people with disabilities is constantly changing, and in 1993, it became evident that for many people, the right thing to do is to provide support in someone’s own home, rather than in an Intermediate Care Facility (also known as a group home) or facility setting.
A woman named Gloria who was living with severe physical limitations wanted to be the first in North Star’s Supported Community Living (SCL) program. She was unhappy with her group living situation, and desperately wanted an apartment of her own; a place where she could live a “typical” life of her own choosing. She explained that she wanted to be able to eat what and when she wanted, go the mall or hang-out with friends if she chose, or even just watch her favorite, “Days of Our Lives” on television. And so, her support team helped her find an apartment, hired support staff, and figured out ways to provide services for Gloria so she would be safe. The rest, they say is history, and Gloria lived on her own happily for 15 years. The SCL program had three participants that first year and has continued to grow into North Star’s most popular program today. It was the first program of its kind in the area and it proved that people with even severe disabilities can safely live independent lives of their own choosing.
In 1993, besides the Waterloo area, SCL programming was added in the Waverly area. Over time, Supported Community Living offices were added to serve Vinton and New Hampton in 1999, Marshalltown in 2000, Mason City in 2003, Charles City in 2004, and Toledo in 2013.
On July 6, 1987, recognizing an unmet need in the area, the Independent Living Skills Center was opened and later became known as the Head Injury Program (HIP). The program was designed specifically to help someone living with an acquired traumatic brain injury to relearn daily living skills, work on some vocational proficiencies, and promoted peer support and independent living. The program now known as Canterbury Center Adult Day Services has expanded to include people living with a disability other than a traumatic brain injury, who benefit from a smaller, quieter, more intimate setting.
Yes! Two others.
In 1988 the name Adults Care, Inc. was revised to Adults Incorporated to emphasize independence-building and focusing on services for individuals with disabilities. On July 1, 2005, the name was changed to North Star Community Services, which better reflects our mission to help people reach for their very own "North Star" or personal dreams and goals.