It Began over 20 Years Ago
Two moms, who were also nurses, sat across from each other in the Beaumont Hospital cafeteria and ventured into a conversation that would change not only their lives, but the lives of many. Although Annemarie Lopez had had this conversation with many over the years, it was on that day while talking to Loretta Nagle Ryan that the message was heard. What would not be known until many years later is that God had prepared both of them for that time and place. He had chosen them for this extraordinary mission and one by one, doors would begin to open.
Inspiration came in the form of Charlotte
Charlotte Lopez, daughter of Annemarie and Ray Lopez, was born with multiple and severe developmental disabilities. As aging parents, Annemarie and Ray were wrought with concern about the safety and welfare of their daughter when they were no longer here to care for her. Having been ingrained in the system, they knew what to expect and this was not what they wanted for their beloved Charlotte.
It was the early 1990’s when Annemarie and Loretta entered into this divine partnership and began the process of sharing their concerns with friends, family and members of their community. What were two became five and, like the miracle of fishes and loaves, the contingent of people who shared their concern grew and multiplied. With the guidance and blessings of Cardinal Maida, the “Founding Five” of Angels’ Place, Annemarie, Loretta, Rosemary Kelly, Margaret Maxwell and Peggy Prentice, as the “Founding Five” of Angels’ Place set forth on a journey that for all of us is a blessing from God; rewarding, humbling and full of love.
On September 25th, 1992, Angels’ Place became incorporated and there was no turning back. Up to that point much of the work that had been done was completed at kitchen tables of the founders and friends of Angels’ Place. The cause attracted many high qualified people from many walks of life, and a board of directors was formed in 1993. James F. Hurlbert Jr. became chairmen; members included Margaret Birchler, Patricia Hurlbert, Rosemary Kelly, Michael Laurencelle, Rosemary Ledwidge, Annemarie Lopez, Margaret Maxwell, Loretta Nagle, Terrence Nagle and Margaret Prentice. Patrick Ledwidge agreed to serve as general counsel. A month later, the group pooled their address books and invited friends and family to their first meeting. The event attracted more than 300 people. It was after the first golf outing at Links of Pinewood, when John Slavsky came to the rescue and donated office space for the group to work from. Angels’ Place was becoming official.
The First House started from a Story
In those formative years of Angels’ Place there were many who supported and ensured that the organization would exist. In November of 1993, a story in the Michigan Catholic prompted a call from a woman in West Bloomfield, who had a house for sale. It was ideal with room for five adults and quarters for a home manager. In 1994, the doors of the Saddlewood Home were the first to be opened. Patrick Ledwidge, in his smooth and persuasive way, assured a concerned neighborhood that their fears would soon be outweighed by their love for the people we serve.
Today, many of those first men who helped to pioneer the way for Angels’ Place still reside as a tight knit family. The first manager of that home was Sr. Joann Ciampa and almost 20 years later, Sr. Joann remains an instrumental leader within the organization.
Between the years of 1996 and 1997, Angels’ Place took on an aggressive pace of growth and the doors of four additional homes were opened. Through gifts made by the Alan Miller family, the Art VanElslander family, and many other generous private and corporate donors, Angels’ Place was able to establish the Pine Center Home, the Middlebury Home, the Webster Home and the VanElslander Home.
Generous Donors and Matching Grants
In 1998, with the help of many generous donors and a match grant from the Kresege Foundation, Angels’ Place completed and achieved the $1M goal of its Homes & Hope Campaign . . . this was an amazing achievement for the young organization.
Over the next couple of years Angels’ Place continued opening doors: Holy Family, Chelton, Dinan, Joliat and MAVE were opened. These homes were made possible through the generosity of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Bill and Karen Pulte, the Rosemary Joliat family, the John P. Dinan family, and the Art VanElslander family, in addition to funds from the Homes & Hope Campaign.
The Angels’ Place Mantra was 10 Homes in 10 Years
Angels’ Place community exceeded the goal of 10 homes in 10 years and, in 2000, had opened the doors of 10 homes in 8 years.
In 2001, Our Lady of Providence closed and the Angels’ Place Board of Directors made the decision to open the doors of 2 more homes and build an addition on to the existing Pine Center Home. Of the nearly 70 women who were being displaced, and in some instances rendered homeless, Angels’ Place, with the help of some very generous families, was able to provide a home for 14 of those 70 women. The Grimaldi Home and the Bell Home became the 11th and 12th homes for Angels’ Place.
The Angels’ Place mantra was soon modified to 12 homes in 10 years. With hundreds of individuals on the wait list of Angels’ Place, the Abundant Life Services program was established in 2003. This new provision of services was made possible through the generosity of the Flint Ink Foundation. For the first time, Angels’ Place was able to provide community-based and respite services, classes, and recreational outings to individuals who were not living in an Angels’ Place home . . . a new door was opened.
With a Promise of Care
A promise that, on average, can last 30-40 years per person, it became acutely apparent to the Angels’ Place leadership that the financial security of the organization needed to be addressed. Doors had to remain open into perpetuity; therefore, the organization embarked on a $6M Endowment Campaign and the Angels’ Place community responded to the “call to action” and the organization achieved its goal in 2009. Thanks be to God.
It was during this same period that Angels’ Place developed a new model of growth. They began partnering with a number of generous families who agreed to purchase houses to not only provide a home for their son or daughter, but to open doors to individuals who would not have had the opportunity to be part of the Angels’ Place community if it were not for their kindness. The Longcrest Home, the Lochdale Home, the Linwood Home, the Woodmire Home and the St. Francis Home were made possible by the Ainslie family, the Veenstra family, the Peters family, the Breza family and the Jonna family.
Within the activity of the endowment campaign, Angels’ Place received nearly a $1M gift from the R.C. Mahon Foundation that allowed Angels’ Place to open the doors of the 18th home, the R.C. Mahon Home.
In 2011 Angels’ Place received a call from the children of Stanley and Dorothy Rogulski. Both parents had passed away within a couple weeks of each other and their brother Paul was in need of care. They were looking for help and did not know which way to turn. Together, Angels’ Place and the Rogulski siblings were able to develop a plan that would allow Paul to remain in the home where he has lived for the past 30 years, while at the same time, opening additional doors for others.
The generous hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Kirk Brannock together with Angels’ Place made it possible for the doors to open on our 20th home. Breckenridge is an adorable home in Bloomfield Hills serving 4 women.