This article is part of the “Stories the Inspire – Independence” series describing the many ways St. Louis Center is helping residents reach their potential through the cultivation of personal INDEPENDENCE.

Independence College at St. Louis Center

The excitement around Independence College at St. Louis Center has been growing since the spring of 2021. Seeing that there was a need for residents to learn skills that would help them be more independent in their lives, the Social Services Department at the Center formatted a “college” type lesson plan. 10 residents were chosen to be the first participants.

After learning about the necessary skills in the classroom, resident participants would then go into the community to practice those skills. Field trips were conducted to give residents a hands-on approach to the tasks they would need to learn to do independently. A trip to the grocery store helped the residents to show their skills at list making, budgeting, and teamwork. At the post office, these residents learned about laws and proper etiquette. Each new week brought new skills that were honed by the residents.

One goal of Independence College was achieved just days before graduation when the last of the graduating residents were able to move into their cottage home on the Center’s campus. This new home provides the male graduates with the opportunity to show off their newly acquired skills. The women graduates were first to move in the fall of 2021.


Meet the Graduates

Graduates tell us their favorite part of Independence College, moving, or the graduation ceremony. After nearly a year of hard work, these graduates were excited to show off their skills and enjoy a celebration that was all about them.

“My favorite was playing the recorder during the ceremony” – Sarah

“I love being independent. My job is great! It is all great!”  – Lee B.

“I liked to learn how to count my own money and  the prices at the grocery store to shop on my own. – Jaqui

“Going on stage.  All the people were so happy for me” – Antoine

“It was all very awesome. I like doing a good job and people love that.” – Lisa

“I really like my new house and being able to keep it clean” -Ken

“Really liked the cake!”
– Lee C.

“Love having my own bedroom and bathroom”
– Cathy

“Moving into the new house and listening to the music I want!” – Joey

“Making my family proud of me and my hard work.” – Stanley

Graduation Night

On April 28, after a year of hard work and preparation, the 10 St. Louis Center Independence College graduates took to the stage surrounded by family and friends who gathered to celebrate their accomplishment. “Little things add up” was a theme of the evenings. Residents have taken many steps to reach their goals, proving that even the smallest things matter in the long term.

Fr. Franklin led prayer to begin the ceremony after a lasagna dinner was served to the residents and guests. “Tonight, we are here on behalf of the graduates of Independence College Class of 2022”, said Sheryl Moore, Social Services Supervisor, welcoming guests as the graduates were seated near the podium.

Gary Piper, transporting specialist at St. Louis Center, made a heartwarming speech about respecting those around us and trusting Jesus to bring us JOY. Deana Fisher, C.O.O. of St. Louis Center congratulated the graduates and dedicated a special thank you for the important role that the Social Services Department plays in giving the residents the skills that they need to gain more independence.

Cheers filled the room as the accomplishments of each resident was commended for their hard work. Each resident received a certificate to commemorate their accomplishment.

Family, Friends, and Community Show Support

The graduates each invited 5 people to attend the celebration and the crowd in the room proved that many more beyond showed up. Parents, siblings, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, coworkers, and so many more were there to support the graduates.  As you celebrate the graduation season, remember every bit of support means so much to the graduates who have worked hard to reach their dreams.


Read more Stories of Inspiration – INDEPENDENCE

79% of donations received go to the care of the Center’s residents.

According to the 2020 audit, St. Louis Center administrative and overhead expenses were only 21%, in line with well-managed nonprofit best practices. You can be confident that your donation to the Center is going to good use. St. Louis Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Federal Tax ID: 38-6038121.

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