Siena Literacy Center History

History of Siena Literacy & Biography of Sister Mary Hemmen

The Adrian Dominican Sisters saw that there was a need for a literacy program for individuals from all walks of life. Sister Mary Hemmen offered to initiate this endeavor. The goal was to make available a literacy program for those who were in need of basic skills. Sister Mary Hemmen and other volunteer tutors were compelled by God to help His people. Stepping out on faith, Sister Mary in October of 1995 began the Siena Literacy Center with twenty students and twelve to fifteen tutors at Bishop Borgess High School. They were at this location for ten years and served hundreds of adults in basic reading and math skills and the English language.

From 2005 to 2010, the Center was housed at New Genesis Baptist Church located at 16161 Winston, in a former Detroit school formerly known as Yost Elementary School. Then Siena relocated to our present location at Christ the King in the former convent located at 16888 Trinity in May, 2010.. The official re-opening celebration was Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. The Siena Literacy Center has impacted and changed the lives of people in the richest, most positive, and rewarding ways. The Center’s operating budget comes from the Adrian Dominican Sisters through the Richard Rea Foundation, Workforce Investment Act II, Reading Works, and our many generous benefactors.

Sister Mary Hemmen continues to serve the people of God diligently and faithfully. She is actively involved with the center and also does other volunteer work within the community. We are blessed by God to have Sister Mary Hemmen as His humble servant and Founder of the Siena Literacy Center.