New beginnings: New space provides support for Vista Maria’s educational community


Photo courtesy of Vista Maria
Vista Maria will build a Child and Family Resource Center to connect two high schools and a gymnasium/food service area on the Vista Meadows Academy at Vista Maria. The gymnasium (pictured) is slated to be expanded and bleachers added.

By SHERRI KOLADE
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Vista Maria, a not-for-profit child welfare organization, will break ground in the next few months on a new Child and Family Resource Center.

The Child and Family Resource Center, 20651 W. Warren Ave., Dearborn Heights, will link Vista Maria’s two high schools – Clara B. Ford Academy and Vista Meadows Academy – and gymnasium into one continuous building, Vista Maria President and CEO Angela Aufdemberge said during an annual meeting at the Dearborn Inn June 14.

“You might think that that is something very small and insignificant but it is not,” Aufdemberge said before a crowd.

Aufdemberge said the expansion converts the already small gym space into a bigger area by knocking down one of the gym’s four walls, with an addition of bleachers.

“We will have a space for families and friends to watch the activities whether it is cheer, dance, basketball or volleyball,” Aufdemberge said. “Why? Because that is where family rituals and connections begin. When you participate, whether you are in the cheering section or whether you are the athlete on the floor, that is where new beginnings are created.”

The Child and Family Resource Center was made possible through a $500,000 Kresge Challenge Grant, given to Vista Maria after they raised $4.5 million dollars.

The money went to the Village of Hope, a charter schools and resource center for disadvantaged children and families. When finished, the Village of Hope will include an alternative education to 350 junior and senior-aged high school students. The center will also help an additional 1,000 children and families with life-skills education through classes and workshops to increase self-esteem, healthy behaviors and self-sufficiency, according to vistamaria.org.

It will also include social and family-friendly recreation activities to foster positive and sustaining life-long relationships and access to low-cost housing and health care.

Aufdemberge said in addition to that the center will have a conference space and meeting rooms.

“Just imagine for a moment a wireless area as well as a beautiful courtyard area where foster families can meet with teens or wait in a really nice area while our kids are meeting with (their) birth parents,” Aufdemberge said. “I want you to think about a space that is used for after-school programing, where the Vista Maria team can invite fellow agencies to come… and go out and serve. That is the space that we’re creating and all of you helped us to create.”

Since 1883 in metropolitan Detroit, Vista Maria has provided treatment, education and resources for full recovery of girls suffering abuse, neglect and trauma.

Vista Maria has on-campus housing for approximately 150 young girls, and many other girls and boys from the community on a daily basis from the services of Vista Maria, including its Village of Hope Academies charter schools providing an opportunity to earn a diploma and preparation for college, mentor programs and foster care programs, according to its website.

For more information on Vista Maria and the Child and Family Resource Center go to: www.vistamaria.org or www.villageofhopehs.com

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)