Sterling Heights

Photos: New mini village to help visitors with special needs learn life skills

Chaldean Community Foundation COO Paul Jonna proudly shows off the new premises on 15 Mile Road.

A community foundation in Sterling Heights is proving that it really does take a village. Expansions at the Chaldean Community Foundation include a mini village-like environment for residents, especially members of the community with special needs, to develop life skills in a safe space. On July 31, the foundation hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to announce the new 19,000-square-foot expansion to its facilities on 15 Mile Road, which houses a fitness center, art studio, hairdresser, cafe, and bank.

The $5 million project by Saroki Architecture is designed to be inclusive, with space for programs for mental health, physical education, recreation, and social activities. There's also classrooms and event space.

Metromode's photographer Joe Powers toured the new facilities to learn about the ways visitors can interact. 

A Level One Bank branch is designed to teach members of the community, including those with special needs, how to manage finances.

This Supercuts shop may look like a storybook setting but is a full barber shop.

Next door, Wild Bill’s Cafe is stocked with food and snacks, and provides an opportunity to expand shopping and transaction skills.

A Wireless Vision gymnasium is designed to house community leagues, community events, and fitness opportunities to those who may suffer from physical or cognitive disabilities.

Music, dance, and art therapy is provided in the Konja Family Art Studio.

Physician Dr Wafa Barkho is on hand at the medical building, a walk-in primary care facility provided by Ascension Health, in the new center. She specializes in family and preventative health. 

The center includes new classrooms for the foundation's citizenship preparation courses, English as a Second Language classes, and continuing education classes.

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Kate Roff is an award-winning freelance writer and journalism educator, currently based out of Detroit. She is the managing editor of Metromode and Model D. Contact her at