Members of Tennessee’s House of Representatives and Senate issued joint resolutions honoring Orange Grove Center for its 60th anniversary as a provider of services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Hamilton County.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 319 was adopted on April 16, in the Senate by Tennessee State Senators Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and Bo Watson (R-Hixson), and by State Representatives Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga), Vince Dean (R-East Ridge), Richard Floyd (R-Chattanooga) and Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah).
House Joint Resolution No. 351 was adopted in the House on April 17, by State Representatives Floyd, Dean, McCormick, Carter and Joanne Favors (D-Chattanooga), and Senators Gardenhire, Watson and Becky Duncan Massey (R-Knoxville).
Both resolutions honor the Center, which was founded in 1953 by a supportive network of parents of who believed in and sought a common goal of educational opportunities and community inclusion for their children. The Chattanooga Board of Education donated the use of the abandoned Orange Grove Elementary School on Main Street, and Chattanooga Jaycees and others spent countless hours cleaning and restoring the school for eventual use. On Oct. 1 of that year, through diligence and the urging of parents, teachers and business and community leaders, the inaugural class of over 20 children were welcomed for their first day of school.
The Jaycees and supporters committed themselves to raising funds, and the Center’s board of directors laid the groundwork with local and state government and officials to change state laws that prohibited state school funds from being spent on children who were deemed “uneducable.” Over the years, legislation has guaranteed the right of access to education by children with all kinds of disabilities, notably the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1997.
The resolutions point out that Orange Grove has grown from the four-room classroom on Main to its large main campus with 65 residences throughout Hamilton County, serving 750 individuals, ages eight to 86, with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Center has also expanded its original programming and services to include housing and medical and dental care, while continuing academic instruction and job training.
Both House and Senate resolutions commend Orange Grove for continually looking for new ways to fully realize the potential of individuals and encourage the Center to continue its mission for another 60 years.