On the first Monday of 1949, Frazer Center opened its doors. Those doors were at St Luke’s Episcopal Church on Peachtree Street, and the name of the organization was the Cerebral Palsy Center of Atlanta.
Over the decades, the organization has changed names—to REACH (Rehabilitation and Education for Adults and Children, Inc.), then to the Frazer Center—but the vision has remained constant: to offer research-based education, vocational support, and therapeutic intervention to children and adults with developmental disabilities.
The story begins with a girl named Anita. She was born with cerebral palsy. Her parents were most likely told to send her to live at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. That would have been standard medical advice in the 1940s. But Anita’s mom, Anne Lane, said No, thank you. She wanted her daughter to live and thrive in her community among family and friends. But Anita did need support, and options were limited.
So Anne joined forces with her friend and civic leader, Rebecca Frazer, and on January 3, 1949, the Cerebral Palsy Center opened for service. In those earliest years, fundraising efforts included a parade in downtown Atlanta and celebrity visits by such luminaries as Ed Sullivan and Yvonne DeCarlo.
Thanks to those efforts, in 1952, the 39-acre Cator Woolford estate in the Lake Claire/Druid Hills neighborhood was acquired, and the Cerebral Palsy Center moved into the estate house. The property was put into a trust, and it has been home to the Frazer Center ever since.
As laws and best practices in the field of developmental disabilities evolve, so does Frazer Center. We take our inspiration from our founding mothers who had the vision, courage, and determination to create an uncharted path toward inclusion for people with disabilities.
We continue along that path to this day, with inclusion as our guiding light. From our inclusion nature-based early education to our refugee intern program, from our supported employment program to our community access programs for adults with disabilities, Frazer Center carries the torch that the Lanes and Frazers lit 75 years ago.
And Anita remains at the heart of our story. Her mother Anne did not settle for status quo, and neither does Frazer Center. In our very recent history, our programs have made national news, and our staff has presented at national conferences. As we move forward with our mission of fostering inclusive communities, we can envision ripple effects that not only impact our own local community, but communities throughout Georgia and the United States.
As we celebrate our 75th diamond anniversary, we hope YOU will join in on our vision! Whether that’s attending our special 75th anniversary Gather in the Gardens gala in the spring, or sharing your own story of how Frazer Center impacted your life, we want you to know that you not only belong in our community, you ARE our community. And side by side, hand in hand, our inclusive future is bright!