(Chelsea Update would like to thank Joe Yekulis for the information in this story and Kelly Flaherty for the photos.)
St. Louis Center is a residential care provider for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the Catholic priests of the Servants of Charity have been serving the needs of this special population in Chelsea for over 53 years.
The mission of St. Louis Center has evolved over the years to become a much larger part of the local community, as evidenced by its evolution from a boy’s school, to accepting young adult men over the age of 18, to including adult women in the program in 2001.
Now St. Louis Center is preparing to care for older adults with developmental disabilities with the expansion of Fr. Guanella Hall. The center is located five miles west of Chelsea in Sylvan Township and this distance presents logistical challenges for the 50 residents who live there. That’s where transportation becomes an important part of daily life to help the residents feel like they’re a part of the local community.
And that’s where the Chelsea United Way comes in. The local United Way program provides funding for the St. Louis Center “Community Support Program,” designed to promote acceptance and inclusion in the community for the special needs residents who call St. Louis Center their home.
According to Fr. Enzo Addari, administrator of St. Louis Center, “This is an important program that provides our residents with the training and support they need to be able to integrate themselves into the larger community. Several of our residents have part-time jobs that help to give meaning to their lives, and make them feel like they’re contributing members of society. Examples of local employers include Washtenaw County 14-3 District Court, Meijer’s and Classic Pizza in Dexter.”
Peggy Cole, development director of St. Louis Center says, “Working in the community helps to develop leadership skills for our residents, and gives them more confidence to interact with other people. They enjoy working with the local Kiwanis Clubs in Chelsea and Manchester through their Aktion Club, working with local Knights of Columbus Councils, and spending time with friends at the Chelsea Community Fair and at Chelsea High School Football games.”
Support from the local community truly makes a difference in the lives of the residents of St. Louis Center, and the priests, residents, and staff, are grateful to Chelsea United Way for contributing to their quality of life.
For more information about St. Louis Center please click here.