Florida Trend
Get FREE Business News Updates

NAVIGATION

February 12, 2016

Job training

Shred of Dignity for Disabled Workers

Art Levy | 8/1/2008
Louise Graham Regeneration Center
Employees of the Louise Graham Regeneration Center sort through waste paper.

Two years ago, the Louise Graham Regeneration Center, which employs developmentally disabled adults at its St. Petersburg paper recycling plant, nearly shut down. Prices for its recycled products were falling, and it was winning fewer contracts to pick up waste paper to recycle. The lack of business meant the center had to employ fewer disabled adults, which resulted in less government funding. Louise Graham survived, however, because the R’Club, a St. Petersburg non-profit that provides child-care and after-school programs, bailed it out and took over management duties.

Al Soto, the center’s director and an R’Club executive, oversaw the comeback and aims to keep the center self-sufficient by expanding its business into document shredding. Last year, Soto helped the non-profit receive a five-year, $150,000 loan from the National Industries for the Support of the Handicapped (NISH) to start up a document destruction business. NISH also has helped non-profits get into the document business in Fort Myers, Green Cove Springs, Melbourne and south Florida.

To Soto, the new line of work is a perfect fit for Louise Graham, which employs 50 and has been in the paper recycling business since 1992. Earlier this year, with help from NISH, Louise Graham won an ongoing contract to destroy sensitive documents for the federal government. Louise Graham ships the shredded paper to a recycler in Clearwater, which uses it to manufacture toilet paper, paper towels and other products. Louise Graham then sells those products to local governments and businesses.

Art O’Hara, R’Club’s executive director, says non-profits today will fail if they rely only on government funding. “The keyword now is entrepreneurship.”

Tags: Southwest, Business Services, Education

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single digital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

Table Talk - Trends in meat & fish
Table Talk - Trends in meat & fish

Florida Trend restaurant editor Chris Sherman answers the longstanding question, "Where's the beef?" and speaks his mind about Florida's best "catch" on the fish front.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Democrat's turn: Who do you think will ultimately be the Dems nominee for the 2016 presidential race?

  • Sanders
  • Clinton

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe