FORT LAUDERDALE — One day in the 1980s, Angela Graham saw a man eating out of a trash can, surrounded by flies.

Touched by his plight, Graham offered the man food and then went a step further. She went to her house in Fort Lauderdale to get him shoes and clothes.

Graham knew there were many others like that man and she was inspired to help make a difference in the lives of the homeless.

“That’s what the Lord wants us to do, help others,” Graham said. “There are some people who don’t have anything. If we could all just give a little extra of ourselves, we could all help save someone in need.”

Graham, an operating room clinical assistant at Holy Cross Hospital,  has been providing food and clothing to the homeless in Broward County for some 25 years and she also campaigns for their rights.

In doing so, she helped raise the visibility of homelessness and, according to a statement from Holy Cross, which is part of the Catholic Health East (CHE) network, her effort was instrumental in the city of Fort Lauderdale’s building a permanent shelter for the homeless.

She continued to help those on the streets and eventually formed her own organization, Graham for the Homeless.
Her efforts on behalf of the less fortunate recently won Graham national recognition when Catholic Health East honored her with the Richard A. Stebbins Award.

The recognition is given to an employee within CHE who represents the core values of the system and has demonstrated the capacity to build community and foster harmonious and supportive relationships between and among organizations and people.

It was awarded at the recent CHE bi-annual Governance-Management Conference. As part of the award from CHE, Graham received $2,000 and a plaque will be inscribed with her name to be displayed at CHE’s System Office in Newtown Square, Pa.

Graham’s work has also attracted the attention of U.S. and state senators and representatives from Florida, who have sent her letters over the years commending her on her dedication.