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Northville center for autism has a unique approach by helping build careers and make connections

Posted at 7:29 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 19:29:00-04

NORTHVILLE, Mich. (WXYZ) — This incredible Northville estate certainly has its place in the past.

“Someone made a joke and said, ‘Oh you should look at the Don Massey estate.’ Don Massey Cadillac was the last owner of this property,” said Rachelle Vartanian.

Now it is shaping a future for these young adults living with autism.

“Every parent that has a child with special needs thinks the same thing. What’s going to happen when I die. So, I thought, this is how we are going to solve that problem.

On a mission fueled by heart, Rachelle Vartanian sold her home, traded in her car, and used all of her retirement money to create this, Living & Learning Enrichment Center. Where disability does not stop the ability to have a career and make real connections.

“We've got about 25 different social programs. When kids are in high school, especially if they got Asperger's or high functioning autism, they are isolated they are not invited to things anymore. So, I really wanted programs that would help them have friends with people help them have girlfriends or boyfriends and we did that successfully and we started running programs to help them have jobs,” said Vartanian.

Now, nine young people are on the payroll here and hundreds are working in the community. The effect on families... Priceless!

“Being here, the people, and the program help build his confidence,” asked WXYZ’s Glenda Lewis.

“Yes, confidence. This is a big building,” said Mother Josephine Israel talking about her son Fabian. “He is the best person in our whole family, giving whatever, he has to the community I'm so blessed to have him in my life.”

“I like to go to Mod Market there are my paintings in Mod Market and people are buying my art,” said Fabian Israel.

Also new this year, an opportunity to be trained in Cyber Security at Ford Motor Company.

And this amazing farm has Alpacas.

“That's for jobs someday we will have a fiber mill at some point, and it will jobs for people where we will make the most expensive yarn you can buy and make a paycheck,” said Vartanian.

You can always find the heart of this mission, right in the heart of the estate. Rachelle lives in the guest house with her husband and 20-year-old son who has autism.

“My youngest son was diagnosed with autism and actually the Asperger syndrome. He’s in programs here. He’s in the IT Academy,” said Vartanian.

This changes lives. Just that feeling of belonging and someone caring about you, that is the most important fuel we all want that.

Learn more about us at Living & Learning Open House on October 8th & 9th, 2021. They will have live entertainment, food, drinks, and classic cars on display.