Happy 2024!
Left to right: Lanard, Shane, Michelle Tyler (2nd Shift DCW), Joey, and
Laura Rayer (Activities Coordinator) prepare to ring in the New Year

Two generous donors contributed $100,000 each in a
challenge to bring in an additional $200,000 by year’s end.

As of December 31, 2023, we met the Year-End Match, with a total of $218,894!

Read below to learn of one program where your generosity has a
direct impact on the lives of St. Louis Center residents.


It was a cold, dark, and drizzly outside, but the hearth was warm in St. Joseph’s Hall one evening shortly after Christmas. Several residents were waiting happily for Laura Rayer, St. Louis Center Evening Activities Coordinator, to arrive with her beloved crafts and games, putting everyone in the mood to ring in the New Year with a big smile.

“When I come to work and see all of the smiles and excitement on our residents’ faces, I feel welcomed, cheerful, needed, and appreciated!” ~ Laura, making her rounds to visit residents

Laura’s first stop is in her office which is jam-packed with a diverse collection of craft-able supplies. There are the usual crayons and colored paper, along with games, puzzles, balls, and yarn, with plenty of whimsy, all overseen by the giraffe on the back wall. She fills her wagon with activities that inspire imagination, carefully selecting items she knows will be a hit with the residents.

Once her baskets are full, Laura heads off to the different buildings on campus, tailoring her activities specifically to the residents who live in each of the homes. They await her arrival with pleasure, wanting to know what she has in mind for them. Some pepper her with questions and others help empty the sacs to set up the activities. The Direct Care Workers enjoy her visits too, wondering what she has come up with to fit the mood and the season.

“I am so happy to be here at SLC as the Evening Activity Coordinator for our residents!”

Laura graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Therapy.  She initially pursued a career in special education. When she discovered Recreation Therapy she knew it was the right path for her, allowing her to work with the people she loves using her special talent for creating unique arts and crafts. She has been working in the field of Therapeutic Recreation for more than thirty-five years in various settings, with many different clients and residents of all ages, needs, and varying abilities.

I visit each and every house and resident during the week, and bring a variety of individualized and group activities to them.

St. Louis Center residents welcome Laura three evenings each week, between 3:00 pm and 8:30 pm, after their other activities have ended. They have come to expect indoor bowling and bingo on Tuesdays, crafts, baking, and active games in the gym on Wednesdays, and house visits on Fridays, fun projects incorporating motion and music into many of the activities. Laura intersperses the routine with activities individualized to themes and holidays. She notes that holiday cheer is especially important to accommodate heightened sensitivity for some who may not be able to visit their relatives. She helps them celebrate the season with their St. Louis Center family.

Recreational and leisure activities really do make a difference in the busy lives of our active SLC residents. I’m so thankful to be working here. Thank you to everyone for your gracious support!

St. Louis Center is filled with gratitude for YOU.

Your support brings the smiles below!  Read other stories about how St. Louis Center is flourishing, and consider telling us some of your own stories about your experience with the Center for our SLC History Project.  And, if you’re in the area, let us know if you’d like to stop by for an in-person visit to see how your support is making a big impact in the lives of people with I/DD!

A part of this post is on page 5 of St. Louis Center’s 2023 Annual Report.

Read St. Louis Center 2023 Annual Report

If this article or any of the stories of inspiration shared in St. Louis Center’s Annual Report move you, please consider a donation of any amount in support of the Center’s Benevolent Care fund.

Would you like to see how your dollars benefit St. Louis Center residents? Come visit us to see the impact of your generosity!