Louise Graham (1903-1983) was the daughter of a freed slave. In 1949, while volunteering at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, she met a developmentally disabled man who had been abandoned by his family.
Because of his disability, hospital personnel treated him as if he were helpless. Graham felt the best way to help him was to teach him self-sufficiency. She took him home, set up shelving in her garage and taught him how to stock the shelves.
Graham worked with him until he could stock and arrange the shelves on his own. She then arranged an interview for him at a local grocery store where he was hired as a stock clerk. As the years went on, she continued helping the developmentally disabled, and because of her dedication, friends throughout St. Pete joined her by volunteering their time and donating resources.
From 1952 to 1980, the group was known as the Florence Nightingale Circle and an environmentally responsible paper recycling business became the vehicle for job training. When Louise Graham died in 1983, her friends renamed the organization the Louise Graham Regeneration Center in her honor.
Gwen Reese: “I AM”
Today, the center continues the tradition of meeting the needs of developmentally disabled adults who deserve to be recognized for their ability to contribute meaningfully to our community. The Louise Graham Regeneration Center, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, provides employment for developmentally disabled adults through the recycling and sale of paper products.