Like Dorothy Gallaher, Mattie Florence Rhodes was a teenager who had a desire to help the less fortunate. She and a group of her friends from church called themselves, the Little Gleaners. Mattie died of typhoid fever at age 19 years. She left the sum of $500 to assist The Little Gleaners to continue their outreach. Her friends honored Mattie’s wish in 1894 by founding the Mattie Rhodes Memorial Society. This was their pledge:
“I promise to do all I can to help the needy and suffering by working for them, learning about them, giving for them, and trying to interest others in them.”
In the beginning to group focused on poor mothers who were needing assistance in day care and food. Later, during the Great Depression, Mattie Rhodes Memorial Society saw the need for a settlement house for children, single mothers, homeless individuals, and the elderly. In the 1950s, Mattie Rhodes Center expanded their services to meet the mental health and social services needs of the Spanish-speaking community. Bilingual therapists and case managers were hired. In the late 1980s, Mattie Rhodes Art Center was established as a safe place for neighborhood children to demonstrate their creativity and experience art therapy. The Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery came about in 1999 and has become a community gathering place for Latino cultural events.