By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Crossroads for Youth’s ACT program building has been named in honor of Camp Oakland’s very first resident, Hilary Maciejewski, who lived there for most of the 1950s.
“Hilary House” has been repurposed for the ACT (Achievement Center Treatment) model, and provides residential substance abuse treatment for adolescent boys ages 13 to 17. It offers an ideal environment for healing and helps to promote the recovery process.
“Hilary, who is also a Crossroads for Youth Board Member, has been actively involved with Crossroads for Youth for the past few years,” said Crossroads Executive Director Marc Porter. “He wants to give back to the agency he calls his childhood home and has done so in spectacular fashion. He and his wife, Connie, who visit almost weekly, donate money and time to on-going projects, plus they support the agency in countless other ways. It is an honor to name a building for him.”
Maciejewski came to live at Camp Oakland, which has been renamed Crossroads for Youth since 1999, when he was 10 or 11 years old. He came from an abusive home life and had a history of running away.
“I came from the court system,” recalled the 83-year-old Sterling Heights resident. “I lived out on the streets when I was seven years old, pan-handled, before the courts took me over. So that’s the reason why I owe a lot. When I go down the road, I see these people begging for money – that could have been me. That’s the reason my wife and I try to do whatever we can for the camp.”
Camp Oakland’s founder, Bill Matus, was Maciejewski’s caseworker. For the first few years, just the two of them lived on the 320-acre campus at 930 East Drahner Rd. as Matus worked to establish an organization to serve abused, neglected, at-risk and disadvantage children in 1953.
The facility has changed a lot since then, when it was a working farm with oat and wheat fields. “When they bought the place, they had milk cows and young cattle, they had almost 100 head of cattle.”
Maciejewski went up north to see Matus before he passed away in 2016. “He asked if I would get involved. I said I would, because I owe a lot to the camp. I became very successful because of him.” In his engineering career, Maciejewski worked his way up as a plant manager and field supervisor, retiring at the age of 76.
He’s glad the organization is still going, nearly 70 years later. “It’s a good place for kids to be, a lot of open space. . . We got to try to keep that place going.”
He loves returning to the campus as often as he can with Connie and their dog, Lady. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s still my home.”
Crossroads for Youth is a private, nonprofit treatment agency that serves at-risk and abused youth ages 7-17.
By James Hanlon