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Independent Living Center


Independent Living Center

201 E Main Street

Ionia, Michigan 48846

Program Goal
It is the intent of the district to provide school-age adults with moderate cognitive impairments the opportunity to become independent in home living skills, community awareness and vocational readiness.  We believe this can be best achieved in a normal, more natural environment.  A home setting within walking distance to businesses and public agencies provides such an opportunity.

Program Description click here for a brochure
At the House, students are provided a great opportunity to receive special training in home living skills.  This includes daily upkeep such as vacuuming, dusting, mopping floors and doing laundry.  In addition, they are responsible for yard care and minor maintenance duties.

Students are responsible for lunches.  They assist in making out menus, grocery shopping and meal preparation.  In addition to learning basic cooking skills, students are often also responsible for making their own lunch.  Proper nutritional selections are encouraged and they do their own dishes. 

While at the House, students are afforded opportunities to improve their social skills.  Making good use of leisure time, getting along with others and making choices as to what they want to do is very important.  The receive experiences in greeting visitors, answering the telephone and delivering messages as well.

As the house is located near the downtown area, students are able to go out into the community regularly.  Grocery shopping and running errands for other purchases allows them a chance to work on their money skills.  Eating out at a restaurant gives them practice in ordering from a menu.  A walk to the library affords them a chance to return books and to take out others.  All of these types of experiences help the students to become more comfortable and independent in the community setting.

Vocational programming is a significant component of the program.  Over a dozen work sites have been utilized to provide students with opportunities to improve their work habits and job skills, both in a small group and individual basis.  Some of these work sites include churches and other non-profit organizations, grocery stores, florists and restaurants.  As students progress in their work proficiency, individual work placements are made in coordination with Michigan Rehabilitation Services.

In the brief time that the House has been in operation, staff have observed much growth in the students.  By building upon these successes, students will be given a greater opportunity to become independent and contributing citizens within their respective communities.

General Facts

  • The Ionia County Intermediate School District purchased the house from the Ionia County Historical Society on October 15, 1990.  Purchase of the house was made after the Planning Commission of the City of Ionia granted “special usage” approval.
  • The Ionia County Intermediate School District, before purchase, reviewed the intended usage with the Michigan Bureau of History, and received their complete endorsement of the potential acquisition.  As a public agency, the district must comply with federal regulations so as to maintain the historical character of the house.
  • Students in attendance at the House formerly attended Freedom Acres School.  They range from 20-25 years of age and have moderate cognitive impairments.  Their district of residence is in Ionia County.
  • Although some overnights are held at the House, it is a day program which follows a typical school calendar.
  • Approximately 15 students attend the House program.  A teacher and four paraeducators are assigned to the House.

History of the House
Commonly referred to by Ionia residents as the “original” Blanchard House, this Greek Revival house was built in 1847.  First located at the site of the present Blanchard House, it was moved in 1879 to Adams Street.  On November 11, 1984, it was moved again to its present site.  The Ionia Historical Society had the house renovated.  Renovation included new electrical wiring, plumbing, furnace, drywall and interior trim to facsimilate the original.  The basement wall at the front of the house was made using stone from the original foundation.