Our historical roots take us back to 1964, when Pastor Edward Tornow moved with his family to the Fargo-Moorhead community. Pastor, Mrs. Tornow and their son, Eddie, immediately looked for an activity center that Eddie could attend. Eddie was 16 years old, and was born with Down syndrome. At the time, The Tornows found zero services available in Fargo, but enrolled Eddie at Harbor School in Moorhead, Minnesota. Pastor Tornow made it his mission to work toward the development of services in Fargo, North Dakota.

Not wanting to wait for the State to take action, Pastor Tornow inspired parents to begin programs themselves. After years of collaborating with the Cass County Association of Retarded Citizens and the Red River Day Activity Center, Pastor Tornow learned that the Presentation Sisters had some empty rooms in Sacred Heart Convent – currently Riverview Place in Fargo. Approaching Sister Rosaria Acton, he spoke about his dream of a short-term stay facility that would provide activities for young people who had developmental disabilities. He asked if the program could temporarily be housed at Sacred Heart Convent. After conferring with the Sisters, Sister Rosaria reported to Pastor Tornow that the program could begin at Sacred Heart Convent. In the late summer of 1974, Friendship Village was born.

Pastor Tornow felt the name Friendship Village was chosen because “it was meant to be a place of love and understanding, reaching out in the Savior’s name to people whose needs were great and so often misunderstood.” Pastor Tornow and his wife are still very much aware of the happenings at CHI Friendship, as their son, Eddie, now lives in one of the group homes and receives day support in Fargo.

Friendship Village remained at Sacred Heart Convent until July 1981, when the 15 residents of Friendship Village and 8 staff moved to the Villa Nazareth location at 3004 11 Street South in Fargo. Villa Nazareth was the former St. John’s Orphanage. In its final days of operation in 1979, it was a home for young women with social challenges. It closed due to lack of funding and the Villa Nazareth property, owned by the Presentation Sisters, had virtually been empty for two years

In regard to people with developmental disabilities – and as a sign of the times in the late 70s and early 80s - the Sisters offered the site to Friendship Village. With this offer, the Sisters became formal sponsors of the ministry of Friendship Village, and its legal name became Villa Nazareth doing business as Friendship Village.

Becoming a ministry of Villa Nazareth took Friendship Village’s history back to 1897, when the Presentation Sisters established St. John’s Orphanage. St. John’s Orphanage existed in downtown Fargo near St. Mary’s Cathedral until it moved and changed its name to Villa Nazareth in 1961.

In the early 80s, Friendship expanded to several satellite homes in Fargo. CHI Friendship has grown and developed both residential and vocational programs to assist people with developmental disabilities to live and function to the best of their ability in the community. In 1987, the name was changed to Friendship, Inc. to better reflect the mission of the company.

In 1988, EMET, Inc., a nonprofit corporation of Grafton/Park River, North Dakota became a part of CHI Friendship. At that time CHI Friendship developed a Family and Community Living program, a Vocational Program and a Supported Employment Program increasing the programs available for people with developmental disabilities.

In 1997, Villa Nazareth celebrated their 100-year Centennial. In June of 2001, CHI Friendship received a three-year accreditation with distinction from The Council on Quality for Leadership in Supports for People with Disabilities.

In May 2002, the water main broke at 801 Page Drive causing a flood in the building. CHI Friendship had to close the building due the extensive damage. For the next year, the building was repaired and remodeled. In the interim, the Vocational Programs were run in the ICF/MR homes. In the spring of 2003, the Vocational Programs moved into three separate community based programs.

The Minimal Supervised Living Arrangements (MSLA) program was started in June 2003. CHI Friendship moved four people that are served from an ICF/MR setting to a 24-hour staffing apartment location.

One of our latest moves was in June 2003, when CHI Friendship’s Administrative Office moved to 801 Page Drive, Fargo, ND.
On September 4, 2003, we marked the culmination of a year that involved a lot of change for all, and hosted a ribbon cutting and open house with the Fargo Moorhead Chamber of Commerce. We have three new vocational sites in the community: Gateway, Westfield, River’s Bend and our new MSLA residential site.

During our ribbon cutting ceremony, we named each of our 22 departments and asked a representative to present a flower in a vase symbolizing our one mission: “To provide excellent service to people with disabilities in a spirit of Reverence, Integrity, Compassion and Excellence.” We blessed our new Administrative Office location and extended the blessing by symbolically cutting the ribbon for the Gateway, Westfield, River’s Bend and MSLA locations.

CHI Friendship’s goal is to become national leader in providing quality services to people with disabilities. Today, CHI Friendship serves over 250 people and employs approximately 300.