CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Seniors in Cedar Springs will have a new place to gather after a questionable real estate deal left them out in the cold.

Crews are making progress on renovating a building on Main Street near East Pine Street.

The Village Learning Center will serve as a senior center and a day care center.

The North Kent Senior Citizens Association lost its building in October of 2021 in a real estate deal where the property was resold for eight times what the group received. 

Target 8 investigator Henry Erb reported on the transaction. 

A rendering of the Village Learning Center in Cedar Springs. (Courtesy Jen Ruwersma)
A rendering of the Village Learning Center in Cedar Springs. (Courtesy Jen Ruwersma)

Cherrie Camilleri, a Cedar Springs senior, said the project is giving them hope.

“There’s such a bright future for us here,” Camilleri said. “We can’t believe — or at least I can’t — how the love has come back from where it didn’t feel like we were being loved before.”  

Jen Ruwersma, who will be the director of The Village Learning Center, saw the Target 8 story.

“Honestly it broke my heart,” Ruwersma said.

She was looking for a place to put a new child care center. When she came across the building in Cedar Springs, she decided to change her plan.

“Right around the same time things happened with the senior center in town and they didn’t have a place to go … I decided to do child care my own way, which meant I would have a child care and a senior center,” Ruwersma said. “We would have the interaction between the two generations.”

As a licensed provider she has seen the need for child care firsthand.

“We have a waiting list of about 50 kids and are called every day for more people needing child care. There’s a huge shortage in our area,” Ruwersma said.

The $900,000 project quickly became much bigger than expected. Lyons 5 and Nugent Builders are donating labor to repair the roof and other businesses like Philo HVAC are stepping up.   

“We then received a crazy donation from Standale Lumber of almost $75,000 in material to keep us going and then Veteran Roofing also stepped forward and is donating the labor to finish the roof,” Ruwersma said.

  • Crews are working on the Village Learning Center in Cedar Springs. (Jan. 11, 2023)
  • Crews are working on the Village Learning Center in Cedar Springs. (Jan. 11, 2023)
  • Crews are working on the Village Learning Center in Cedar Springs. (Jan. 11, 2023)
  • Crews are working on the Village Learning Center in Cedar Springs. (Jan. 11, 2023)
  • Crews are working on the Village Learning Center in Cedar Springs. (Jan. 11, 2023)

Jeff Lyons, the president of Lyons 5 Remodeling, said the contractors working on the project can handle the curveballs they have encountered.

“It’s a good challenge, so it will be fun. Excited to see the end and how it’s used,” Lyons said.

If you would like to donate to the project, you can do so through the groups GoFundMe page.