In 1930, Hattie Starkey, a public school teacher, opened her home to students with disabilities. She started with two students, both of whom had physical and developmental disabilities. In no time at all, word spread of the makeshift school, and Ray and Hattie Starkey ended up moving several times to larger homes in Wichita “where more leaves could be put in the dining room table.” At its height, the home-based school accommodated as many as 40 students in a basement classroom.
When Mrs. Starkey talked with parents of her students about the need for a permanent school building, they were more than willing to help in any way they could. The families took second mortgages on their homes – something virtually unheard of in that era – to help finance the construction of a six-classroom school building at 144 S. Young. Completed in 1952, the school accommodated more than 70 students, plus 12 full-time and three part-time teachers. A nearby home was converted into instruction areas for cooking, sewing, ceramics, music and a kindergarten classroom.
In 1955, Mrs. Starkey officially turned the school over to the parent group, which incorporated Starkey as a nonprofit organization. Mrs. Starkey, who served as educational director, said of her students: “I have never seen such a happy group of children.”
More than eight decades after its founding, the Starkey School – now known as Starkey, Inc. – serves 520 individuals with disabilities and is the oldest community-based organization serving such individuals in Sedgwick County.
Explore our timeline to view significant events in Starkey’s history.
1930 Starkey school began with founder Hattie Starkey instructing two children with mental retardation at her home.
1952 First educational building was built at 144 S. Young. School was incorporated as Starkey School for Retarded Inc., and a five-person board of directors was elected.
1962 Physical Education building was constructed.
1965 New education building was built after original building was destroyed by tornado.
1966 John Frye becomes CEO after working for several years as an instructor at the Starkey School. He was initially hired by Hattie Starkey.
1967 First workshop building was constructed, and Adult Work Activity programs were started.
1968 Corporate name of Starkey was changed to Starkey Developmental Center for Retarded Inc.
1969 Starkey took over operation of a preschool program from the Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC) of Sedgwick County.
1971 Work Activity Building was constructed, which allowed the Starkey client count to grow to 100.
1973 First workshop facility was expanded and additional clients were added to adult Work Activity program. USD #259 began offering special education services at Starkey for students within their district.
1974 Inter-Local Coop for Sedgwick County started offering special education services at the center for county residents.
1977 Lilac Lane Preschool moves to St. Joseph Medical Center.
1978 Adult Residential Service program was begun, with one home serving 10 clients.
1979 Wood and Plastic Satellites were opened to accommodate additional work activity clients. Corporate name changed to Starkey Developmental Center Inc.
1981 First three-year accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
1983 Opened three additional neighborhood-based group homes, one through the Model Cities program, two through HUD.
1984 Charlie Daniels Golf Classic fundraiser begins.
1985 Opened two additional neighborhood-based group homes through HUD funds.
1986 Opened three additional neighborhood-based group homes, one through Model Cities and two through HUD.
1987 Opened two additional neighborhood-based group homes through HUD funds. Three-year accreditation by CARF.
1988 Opened Charlie Daniels Addition to the work activity building.
1989 Closed preschool in preparation for State of Kansas mandate requesting public school system to provide preschool services. At this point, Starkey served 182 adult clients. John Frye retires after a 33-year tenure as CEO. Bill Brotton hired as new CEO.
1991 Kickoff of $1.5 million capital campaign for a new Work Activity building. Center of Hope merged with Starkey Inc. Opened first semi-independent living residential settings.
1992 Starkey Board of Directors approves creation of Starkey Foundation as separate fundraising arm with a focus on safe, affordable housing for people with disabilities. First work enclaves placed at Metal-Fab and Valley Wholesale & Floral.
1993 Tom Dixon is first Starkey client elected to Board of Directors. Bob Rice is first full-time Community Employment placement. Three-year accreditation by CARF.
1994 New building at 4500 W. Maple opens, debt-free, as first ADA-accessible building constructed in Sedgwick County. First two individuals from state hospitals admitted through the Community Integration Project. First Starkey client to purchase his own home.
1995 245 people in day services at Starkey, and 153 in community-based services. Starkey is awarded, and begins providing transportation for, MTA bus routes in Wichita.
1996 Gov. Bill Graves signs the Developmental Disabilities Reform Act, changing the face of services for all people with disabilities in Kansas. Starkey becomes a state leader in the new process of developing Person-Centered Plans for all clients. The State Refinance Plan allows individuals at Starkey to access funding. Three-year CARF accreditation. Starkey receives influx of 25 people through the CIP project needing homes.
1997 COMCARE of Sedgwick County becomes the Community Developmental Disability Organization (CDDO), governing all providers such as Starkey in Sedgwick County.
1998 Starkey begins transitioning its life skills training into community-based settings, increasing the amount of community inclusion for these individuals.
2000 Starkey, Inc. currently serves more than 300 people through its employment, residential and life skills programs.
2001 Carolyn Risley Hill becomes CEO of Starkey, Inc.
2002 Starkey implements new mission and vision statements and a new three-year strategic plan.
2002 Computers and e-mail are installed at all community living settings.
2003 Starkey opens the Passport to Opportunity Program, which offers education units and community outings on a part- or full-time basis as another day services program option. The start-up of the program is funded with a gift from the Boeing Employees Community Fund.
2003 Starkey builds a seven-bedroom community living setting made from Agriboard, a building product made from compressed wheat straw. It features a safe room made with double layers of Agriboard, tested to withstand wind speeds equivalent to an F3 tornado.
2003 Persons served, parents, guardians and staff begin the Buy Shares in Starkey’s Future fundraising campaign to create a start-up fund for a business venture that will employ persons served and create additional revenue to fund Starkey programs.
2004 Starkey receives $1.27 million in low-income housing tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation to build the 15-unit Kouri Place Apartments, located at Anna and Douglas. The one-bedroom apartments will house individuals with developmental disabilities and will feature an on-site manager.
2004 The Starkey Action Council hosts the first-ever Starkey Garden Fair, a two-day extravaganza at the home of Tom and Myra Devlin near Augusta. The Garden Fair features tours of 10 acres of manicured gardens, a cafe, guest presentations and retailers from Wichita and surrounding cities.
2004 The Buy Shares committee raises $60,395, which is matched by the Starkey Foundation and, combined with other pledges, creates a fund of $122,620 to assist with start-up costs of a new business venture.
2004 The Starkey Foundation celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Charlie Daniels Golf Classic in Wichita.
2005 Starkey marks its 75th anniversary of service to individuals with developmental disabilities in the Wichita community with a variety of activities, including the dedication of a time capsule at 4500 W. Maple, a traveling historical exhibit and a gala dinner at Century II Exhibition Hall for 475 guests, including current and former students, staff, parents and volunteers.
2005 The Kouri Place Apartments open at 140 S. Anna. Fourteen of the one-bedroom apartments are leased by individuals served at Starkey; the 15th apartment is reserved for an on-site staff who can provide any necessary support. The apartments were funded with $1.27 million in low-income housing tax credits from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation and $67,500 from the Federal Home Loan Bank Topeka-Affordable Housing Program, through a grant administered by Southwest National Bank in Wichita.
2005 Overstock Avenue, a resale shop offering brand name merchandise, opens at 4800 W. Maple. This is the first venture undertaken by Starkey Enterprises Ltd., and it employs 70 individuals in the set-up phase and will eventually employ an individual served at Starkey. It is partially funded with the funds raised by parents and other volunteers through the “Buy Shares” campaign.
2005 Starkey joins in the 10th anniversary celebration for the Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization (SCDDO), created as a result of the Developmental Disabilities Reform Law. Starkey and other agencies in Sedgwick County are affiliate service providers of the SCDDO.
2006 Starkey launches an electronic recycling – or e-cycling – program in its work center, where individuals served at Starkey dismantle a variety of electronic items for recycling, including CPUs, keyboards, printers, scanners, copiers, VCRs and fax machines.
2006 The Starkey Enterprises board votes to close Overstock Avenue after it does not meet expected job creation and revenue expectations.
2006 The College of Direct Support, an online curriculum developed by the University of Minnesota, is offered to direct support professionals at Starkey, and 626 lessons are completed by 28 employees during 12 months. During its 2006 regular session, the Kansas Legislature votes to fund the College of Direct Support and make it available to all disability agencies in Kansas.
2006 Another five-person community living setting is opened in Wichita.
2006 Starkey contracts for a development audit to review its fundraising structure, and receives a capacity building grant from the Wichita Community Foundation to aid in creating a comprehensive development strategy.
2007 Another five-person community living setting is opened in Wichita.
2007 Starkey is named the Kansas Transit Provider of the Year by the Kansas Public Transit Association.
2007 The Gateway to Opportunity Program, a pilot project supporting individuals with a dual diagnosis of a developmental disability and a mental illness, is launched.
2007 Starkey launches a fundraising campaign for the LIGHTHouse Project, which will build three five-person homes for individuals who have developmental disabilities and dementia.
2008 Transportation providers, including Starkey, receive a boost in funding from the City of Wichita and from the federal government’s New Freedom initiative.
2008 Student volunteers from the Circle of Friends organization and Friends University begin scheduling regular social events with individuals at Starkey.
2008 Starkey announces its LIGHTHouse Project to the public and unveils the future building site at Clara and Douglas, the former location of one of its first community living settings in the 1970s.
2008 Two additional five-person homes are opened in Wichita.
2009 Starkey opens a five-person home in Maize, its first in that city.
2009 Starkey’s Life Enrichment Program partners with The Opportunity Project, a local low-income preschool, and makes sensory items for the children there. Participants in that program also continue their tradition of delivering Meals on Wheels several days a week.
2010 The Earl and Mathilda Goebel LIGHTHouse Project opens, providing housing for 15 individuals with disabilities and dementia.
2010 The first individual graduates from the Gateway Program, which was created for people with a dual diagnosis of a disability and mental illness.
2011 Starkey opens two additional community living homes to accommodate 10 additional individuals.
2011 Twenty-five Starkey employees were chosen for a pilot program on leadership development offered by Wichita State University’s Center for Community Support and Research.
2011 CEO Carolyn Risley Hill retires due to health concerns. Marsha Dill becomes Acting CEO.
2012 Colin McKenney is hired as CEO. Starkey currently serves 455 individuals.
2013 Starkey serves 472 individuals. Construction begins on a second apartment complex near Central and West Streets that will house 22 individuals, with limited staff support, in one-bedroom apartments.
2013 Starkey leaders complete a comprehensive process of evaluating facilities and property to plan for growth during the next decade.
2013 An annual fund campaign focuses on resources for the Outdoor Activity Space Initiative for Starkey (OASIS), a half-acre wellness space near the main building at 4500 W. Maple, featuring walking paths, landscaping, benches, a covered shelter area and accessible exercise equipment.
2014 Starkey opens McComas Crossing, a 22-unit apartment complex located at 591 N. McComas (near Central and West Streets).
2014 Starkey now serves 500 individuals with intellectual disabilities in Sedgwick County.
2015 Starkey opens its 43rd home in the Wichita community.
2015 Construction begins on the OASIS project, an outdoor exercise and respite area at 4500 W. Maple.
2015 Starkey receives matching grant funding from Sedgwick County for a new day program building to be constructed on Anna Street, north of Kouri Place Apartments.
2015 Starkey now serves 520 individuals with intellectual disabilities in Sedgwick County.
2016 Starkey opens its first new day program building in 22 years, on Anna Street, which houses its Passport Program and a portion of the Gateway Program.
2016 The half-acre OASIS wellness and respite area at 4500 W. Maple is opened and dedicated.