100 years of the Judson Center

By: Taylor Christensen | Royal Oak Review | Published June 6, 2024


ROYAL OAK — Judson Center celebrated 100 years as a nonprofit organization in May through an interactive art exhibit.

Judson Center provides care to families throughout southeast Michigan who have been impacted by abuse and neglect; autism; and developmental, behavioral and physical health challenges.

The Royal Oak Historical Society and Museum hosted the exhibit that included a historical timeline, artifacts, photographs and a traveling art exhibit called “Museum of Care.”

The exhibit was open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays between 1 and 4 p.m. May 4 through May 30.

“Museum of Care” debuted in December of 2023 at the Detroit Scarab Club. The exhibit served as the centerpiece of Judson Center’s new “Where Care Is An Art” awareness campaign.

“Where Care Is An Art” displayed the connection between Judson Center and the people it works with. Local artists were paired with 10 Judson Center clients to create 10 pieces of art illustrating the clients’ journeys facing challenges and achieving positive outcomes.

Judson Center’s partner on the Museum of Care project, Doner Detroit, came up with the design of the exhibit and put out the call for local artists to participate.

Craig Conrad, chief operating officer of Doner Detroit, said that after researching Judson Center and its connection to clients, he knew they had to create something more personal than traditional marketing.

“We know art, as it surpasses boundaries and evokes emotion, was the perfect way to crystallize these stories for Judson Center’s centennial celebration,” he said in a press release.

Royal Oak Historical Society museum curator Johanna Schurrer said that the 100 years of Judson Center is an important part of Royal Oak’s historical story.

“Our mission at the museum is to preserve the history of the Royal Oak community,” she said in a press release. “Judson Center’s legacy is an important part of this city’s heritage. ... Our museum is a perfect place to showcase Judson Center’s history and impact.”

Lenora Hardy-Foster has been president and CEO of Judson Center for eight years and felt proud to be a part of this centennial celebration.

“When I think of 100 years and how innovative that Judson Center has been, I want to say we are one of the (major) nonprofits that’s making a difference in the lives of so many children, adults and families,” she said.

Since opening its doors in 1924 at the corner of 13 Mile and Greenfield roads, Judson Center has grown to five regional offices that provide a variety of programs in 29 counties.

Hardy-Foster said that the organization has continued to foster an environment of compassion for clients, always looking to improve and add new resources.

“When we opened the doors in 1924, we were an orphanage for boys and girls, and we remain true to that 100 years later,” she said. “But now we have expanded services. Not only do we provide foster care and adoption, but we serve children diagnosed with autism.”

In 1986, the organization started to provide disability services, helping young adults and older adults learn the skills they need to live in the world.

“That disability could have been someone who is in a wheelchair or it could have been somebody with a mental illness diagnosis, but working with them provides soft skills, training, and helping them to find employment,” Hardy-Foster said.

Soon after, the organization started helping anybody with behavioral issues and beyond.

Making it to 100 years as a nonprofit organization gives Hardy-Foster the reassurance that the organization is continuing to do right by its clients.

“It says a lot about the dedication of the nonprofit and their commitment to the community,” she said. “It’s always been about making a difference in the lives of individuals. We (Judson employees) are so happy to be at this point in time and place in our lives.”