How It All Began
For over 85 years, the Las Floristas mission of helping children reach their potential has never changed. We are dedicated to serving the special needs of children with exceptional physical and/or cognitive challenges. The objective of these resources and energy is to supply these special children and their families at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center with the best medical and emotional care available. The end goal is to build an individual who has reached his/her potential, creating an independent, proud and productive citizen.
On February 16, 1938, at the home of Mrs. John Fredericks, Mrs. Thomas Mainwaring and Mrs. Homer Toberman founded the Junior Flower Guild, a branch of the National Plant, Flower and Fruit Guild. There were forty-two charter members and the purpose of the group was to aid in the beautification of the city. That same inaugural year this group of philanthropic women held their first Floral Headdress Ball. With the funds raised, founding members decided upon the King’s Daughters Day Nursey as a worthy charity to support.
In 1939, the Junior Flower Guild seceded from its parent organization and became an independent group, adopting the social name of “Las Floristas” (sharers of flowers).
In 1951, after thirteen years of diligent work and the completion of a new home for the King’s Daughters Nursery School in Palms, the group began looking for another project to support. Due to changing needs of the Palms area as well as the greatly increased financial potential of Las Floristas, a special project committee worked to find another children’s philanthropy. The “Las Floristas Preschool Speech Clinic” on the campus of the University of Southern California was chosen.
Las Floristas supported this facility until 1974 when it established the “Las Floristas Children’s Clinics” at County-USC and Rancho Los Amigos Medical Centers. All along, we continued to work for children with special needs. The group not only has fund-raising goals, but its membership has always become personally involved with the children whom it has helped and a consequence of our work is the lifelong friendships that are formed.
In March 1990 the Las Floristas, Kenneth and Harlyne Norris Center for Applied Rehabilitation Technology (C.A.R.T.) opened its doors which culminated the 50th Anniversary Project.
In 2005, member Joan M. Wismer created the first of two endowments to insure Las Floristas will always continue its mission. This initial endowment was to secure our core programs in general. The second endowment was directed by Mr. N. Jack Dilday of the Wismer Foundation for Scholarships.
In Spring of 2013 the Marilyn J. Hilton Resource Center & Gregory R. Dillon Garden Plaza opened offering patients and their families access to resources such as computers, patient counsellorsand literature as well as a place to gather.
In 2016 Los Angeles County broke ground on the new $418 million renovation at Rancho. The renovation is expected to be done by 2020 and will secure Rancho Los Amigos’ future as one of the top-ranked rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. As the hospital grows, so does our commitment and the need to raise more funds to reach more children.
This year we celebrate our 80th Anniversary and are proud of the fact that we are the second oldest charitable organization in Los Angeles. We have provided more than $15 Million to create and sustain pediatric programs.