Our History

Grass Lake Sanctuary was officially founded in July 2007 by a group of volunteers, inspired by Founder Brenda Morgan, who yearned to bring their energies and gifts together to cultivate a uniquely healing retreat sanctuary, in partnership with the Earth itself. In this way and with the help of volunteers from the broader community, a healing space and presence are created, serving the people of southeast Michigan as a backdrop for the GLS programs.

Clark & Avis Spike: Embedding Love in the Land

The story of the land that is now Grass Lake Sanctuary begins with a stunning expanse of Michigan ecosystems, shaped by glaciers and time and hosting a beautiful array of natural features – wetlands, meadow, woodlands. In the 1970’s, the land was purchased by retired Eastern Michigan University chemistry professor Clark Spike and his wife Avis, who loved and cared for it deeply. Clark spent 38 years sculpting the natural landscape in response to the way it spoke to him on his daily care-taking journeys through the property. Eventually, Clark and his family were unable to continue caring for the land. He yearned for an organization to carry on his legacy and put his hard-earned years of care toward reaching children, people and families. He put out a call for local stewards to take over and transform this nature preserve into a sanctuary that serves the community. As one of the last parcels this size in the southeastern Michigan area, our organization felt the need to put it on display, and bring forth the Sanctuary’s vision.

Partnering with Washtenaw County Parks

Grass Lake Sanctuary has entered into a unique partnership with the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission to better serve the land and the community. The 145-acre sanctuary has two parts: 100 acres of public park land designated the Clark and Avis Spike Preserve, and 45 acres of dedicated non-profit retreat space. Grass Lake Sanctuary volunteers and staff care for all 145 acres. The GLS Service Learning program was created to remove invasive species and carefully nurture the land with the guidance of local experts in conservation. The public is welcome to enjoy the wetlands preserve and walk the park trails & boardwalks any day of the year during daylight hours, while the retreat area is dedicated as an intimate setting for retreat participants.