June 26, 2018 - Chelsea, MI
A new era began for the Guanellian Family in the United States, as the formal dedication of St. Louis Guanella Village and the Grand Opening of four new Children’s Homes for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) took place on the grounds of St. Louis Center in Chelsea, MI on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Now, 58 years after arriving in the U.S. from Italy, the Servants of Charity Congregation is providing a continuum of care for children as young as five, and adults as old as 77 years of age who need assisted living services. St. Louis Center will also be serving girls aged 5-18 years of age for the first time in its history as one of the Children’s Homes is meant for their care. Each home has five bedrooms, a kitchen, a modern dining room, living room, sensory/play room, laundry room, and caregiver work areas. The homes were specially designed for the needs of children on the autism spectrum, and feature soft, natural color palates, full spectrum LED lighting in each room and plenty of natural lighting.
The concept being developed for St. Louis Guanella Village is known as an “intentional community,” where mixed housing will be provided for children, adults, and families who are caring for loved ones with I/DD. Along with future plans for family homes, there will also be additional cottage homes built for adult residents with I/DD who require support services, townhouses for independent living, a fitness center, a chapel, a rectory and a retail center for skill building and job training.
In 2010, St. Louis Center celebrated its 50th Anniversary and began an analysis of what was needed to safeguard its future. The Center’s aging facilities needed to be “updated, uplifted and upgraded,” and so a capital campaign was born. Over the course of seven years, a total of $10 million was raised with the support of a 25-member fundraising team. New construction began in 2010-11, and a Family Welcome Center was dedicated in 2011, a Special Needs Playground was added in 2012, and Fr. Guanella Hall was turned into an Assisted Living home in 2014.
The Grand Opening Celebration drew 300 people to a 4:00 p.m. Mass celebrated by Very Rev. Bishop Emeritus Carl F. Mengeling of the Diocese of Lansing along with ten priests from the Servants of Charity Congregation and the local community. Following Mass, a procession of supporters was led to the new St. Louis Guanella Village by a local Knights of Columbus color corps. Soon the crowd swelled to over 400 people to hear words of welcome from Fr. Enzo Addari, Executive Director of St. Louis Center, along with a history lesson about St. Louis Center from Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC., Community Superior. Fr. David Stawasz unveiled the new St. Louis Guanella Village logo, and Legacy Campaign Chair Norman Neuman thanked all of the people who helped bring the vision of the St. Louis Guanella Village together. A tribute was received from the Michigan Legislature, and several important funders, including the Michigan Knights of Columbus represented by State Deputy Kenneth Unterbrink, were acknowledged. Christine Lindemann, the sister and guardian of one resident, told her family’s story and talked about how meaningful this accomplishment was for SLC families. Bishop Mengeling and Fr. Addari cut the ribbon to officially open the Children’s Homes, and then food and entertainment commenced, in spite of the rains that came pouring down shortly after the ribbon cutting. While Bishop Mengeling blessed each home with Holy Water, God did His part from up above. For more information about St. Louis Guanella Village and the new Children’s Homes, please visit www.stlouiscenter.org.
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