16115 Beck Road
Northville, MI 48167
Established in 1957, Our Lady of Providence Center is a residential community for
persons with developmental disabilities. Founded by Father Aloysius Guanella and run by
the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, the Center is located in the township of
Northville, Michigan. The Center, a non-profit facility, pursues the goal of enabling
developmentally disabled children and young adults "reach their highest potential
emotionally, physically and spiritually." The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence
believe that "every personno matter what her stated mental capacityhas
the right to be a self-respecting individual. By this, we mean she has the right to be
loved, to achieve success in some undertaking, to be creative, to be useful, to be
productive, and to be respected."
The Center admits borderline, mild, moderate, and severe cases of developmentally
disabled girls over ten years and women under forty; it also admits those with profound
disablement who nevertheless can benefit from the Centers program. Boys are admitted
to the day program, but residency is restricted to girls and women.
The Center stresses its religious orientation: "We are a Christ-centered facility.
Parents want this for their special children as well as their other children." The
religious element in the program helps the administration and staff in obtaining "the
maximum achievement from every resident." Ideally, each resident should return to a
home environment or matriculate, if possible, to independence. The Center wants each
resident to attain a degree of self-sufficiency in terms of work-skills and attitudes that
enable a person to hold a job responsibly and develop economic independence. The
development of competency in self-help and self-care skills aids in this effort as does
the provision of spiritual values that "develop the concept of self . . . through
enjoyment and practice of religious experiences."
Center residents under the age of 26 are integrated into the Northville School District
special-education program. Residents and persons from the community older than 26
participate in the Our Lady of Providence workshop, which has established agreements with
local businesses (especially auto suppliers) to provide piece work assembly at piece rate.
The Center works with local businesses (Seaway, Discovery Learning Center, Hardees,
McDonalds, and Burger King) to place its clients in off-site work situations. The Center
also maintains two "established enclaves," one at Mitsubishi Electronics and one
at Seway Tool and Die, where OLP staff supervise ten and two workers respectively.
The actual per diem cost per client at the Center is $105.
In answer to the question of what makes Our Lady of Providence unique, the Center
responds that "Our Lady of Providence offers an all encompassing program that seeks
to meet the individual needs of each person. Programs are designed to promote the highest
level of independence possible. Due to the size of the program we are able to provide
different and distinct living arrangements based on the amount of support and supervision
required. The Center Workshop offers a work environment tailored to meet the
individuals needs . . . . In one statement, Our Lady of Providence offers a
continuum of services, encompassing the entire human person." This is accomplished in
a homelike atmosphere where the residents can feel secure and where they can develop
crucial ties with staff and administration.
Animating and nourishing all aspects of Our Lady of Providence Center is the spirit of
the founder of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, and of the Center, the Blessed
Father Aloysius Guanella. In the words of the administration and staff of the Center,
Father Guanella "was a man ahead of his time. He lived a life dedicated to the care
of persons with special needs." Father Guanellas overriding admonitionthe
motto of the Centerechoes the scriptural injunction, "Whatever you do to the
least of my people you do it to me."
Our Lady of Providence receives funds from Supplementary Security Income, Social
Security benefits, and various state agencies. Additional contributions come from Knights
of Columbus, private grants, and individual donations. One-third of the residents receive
funding of $88.86 per day, applied from private sources. Two-thirds of the residents
receive SSI/SSB funds of approximately $600 per month.