Althea Graham became a Catholic in 1994 and the first organization she joined was the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. She became Conference president of Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1996 and in 1997 became district president of the Detroit West District Council of the Archdiocese of Detroit.
She was attracted by the charisma of the organization and the way it reaches out to the needy – peacefully and prayerfully. She is currently the chairperson for the Christian Service Commission at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Detroit and vice president of Detroit West District Council.
Her work with the Society motivated her to become involved in the fight for affordable health care and Althea was one of the leaders in the collaboration between Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish and Providence Hospital to found the St. Vincent de Paul Health Center in 1995, a free health clinic that provides quality health care to the uninsured. As director of community volunteers for the health center from 1995 until 2007, she was extremely excited when the clinic was recognized by receiving the JC Penney Golden Rule Award.
Althea was born and raised in Detroit, Mich., where she attended the Detroit Public Schools system and graduated from David Mackenzie High in 1972. She attended Schoolcraft College and Wayne State University where she majored in labor studies.
She began her career with Michigan Consolidated Gas Company in customer service in 1981 and later moved to what is now AT&T, aka Michigan Bell, Ameritech and SBC, as a customer service advocate. Her introduction to the labor studies program at WSU naturally led her into union activism hence becoming a union steward and advocate for working families.
One of Althea’s favorite quotes from the Society summarizes her feelings: “Like St. Vincent, you too, will find the poor will do more for you than you will ever do for them.”