Farmington Freedom House residents celebrate Arbor Day

Residents of Community Living Centers (CLC) Freedom House in Farmington helped plant a tree Friday to celebrate Arbor Day.

Executive Director Lisa Murrell said they’re also celebrating a little more personal freedom, as COVID-19 restrictions slowly lift.

Community Living Centers Tree Planting
Freedom House residents gather in the driveway before Friday’s tree planting ceremony.

Sitting in the northeast corner of Farmington and Freedom Roads, Freedom House helps adults with physical and cognitive disabilities transition to more independent living. Residents sharpen their life skills while working for employers in the community.

Under COVID-19 Executive Orders, state officials consider the co-ed house a long-term care facility. That meant residents for months had contact only with CLC staff. Family visits are back on, but closely monitored.

Community Living Centers Tree Planting
Stickers were part of Friday’s Arbor Day tree planting celebration.

“We did outdoor visits when the weather got better,” Murrell said. “Today, all CLC residents have received the vaccine, and any staff who wanted it has it… They’re going back to work on Monday.”

‘A blessing in the community’

Friday’s event started with another organization that supports disabled adults, Mi Works Matters. The nonprofit created Anastasia and Katie’s Coffee Shop and Café in Livonia as a place where people with and without disabilities can work in an inclusive and supportive environment.

Community Living Centers tree planting
The crabapple tree is set up on the west side of Freedom House.

Co-founder Gale Wilcox contacted Steinkopf Nursery in Farmington Hills to ask for an Arbor Day tree donation. Beth Steinkopf said she suggested planting the tree at Freedom House.

“I told (Wilcox) I knew a place that would be perfect,” she said, noting the groups’ similar missions. “It was just perfect timing.”

Steinkopf also has a personal connection. She grew up with an aunt who is developmentally disabled, and her brother-in-law will soon move into a CLC home.

Community Living Centers Tree Planting
Freedom House residents shovel dirt around their new crabapple tree.

“So much came together in this,” she said. “It was really heartwarming. We’re very thankful to have these homes in our community that are well-staffed and well-managed. They’re just a blessing in the community.”

The Malus Royal Raindrops Crabapple now rests in the yard on the west side of the building. It flowers every spring, has unique foliage, and provides small fruit birds will enjoy in the winter, Steinkopf said.

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