Photos from the Greenwell Foundation
The Greenwell Foundation operates within the Greenwell State Park, located in Hollywood.
The park opened to the public in the mid 1990s after John Greenwell Jr. passed away in 1986, leaving the land to the Greenwell Foundation that he founded over 20 years before.
“Mr. Greenwell donated his property,” said Executive Director Jolanda Campbell. “His statement to us was that he wanted programs for people with disabilities and since then that’s what we’ve tried to do.”
The foundation, though it operates within the state park, is a separate entity.
“We’re not state funded,” said Campbell. “So the state owns the park and they provide access to people but (the Greenwell Foundation) runs all the programs.”
Campbell said that the relationship between the park and the foundation is similar to a marriage; they work together but are separate.
The foundation is always seeking funding as they try to keep program costs relatively low to be sure that as many people as possible can access them. They do this by having a scholarship fund for their equestrian program as well as for their summer camps. They support their programs in other ways by taking department of social services vouchers, getting grants and by holding fundraisers.
“Since the economy is, I always say it’s taking its time to recover, we’ve really had to dig deep with sponsors to keep us going,” said Campbell. “But we’re here and we’re expanding. We’re a mature organization that just keeps finding more ways to do what we do.”
Campbell said that the foundation is very reliant on the generosity of other people.
“From a person who makes a donation, to a person who volunteers once, to a person who volunteers on an ongoing basis, to people who want to be board members and steer the direction of the organization; we just could not exist without them,” she said.
The Greenwell Foundation strives to provide an environment that includes those with disabilities as well as those without.
“Now we’re coming back to having (those with disabilities) being included in all aspects of life,” said Campbell. “It benefits those with disabilities to be outside, to be participating in the programs. I have parents from camp tell me they feel welcome here and that’s tremendously beneficial to them as parents. It is also very beneficial to the people who do not have a disability. They learn that people with disabilities can make contributions, can be funny, can have a sense of humor, can be naughty sometimes; that they are just like us, and that’s a really really good thing.”
After over a decade of being with the foundation Campbell has seen many lives changed through the programs offered.
“(There was) one young lady with autism whose mom wasn’t sure we’d be able to have her at horse camp,” she said. “(Through) long discussions, super support from the camp director, support from the mom, all of the staff pulling together, we actually got her on the horse every single day of horse camp. When her face lights up; that just keeps you going.”
Campbell said that the foundation does not discriminate based on any disability, age or any other factor that may affect participation in one of the programs.
“We make programs, ‘cause they’re cool, and everyone can come,” she said. “That’s not always easy, I’m not trying to make light of the fact that sometimes that requires a lot, but that’s the core of our effort here.”