The founder of Green Chimneys saw a need for a special place where children could heal and learn. And then he built it.
This whole crazy dream of Green Chimneys started when I was just 19 years old. It was May 1947 and my father and I were driving to the University of Montreal where I was scheduled to take a summer course. We took a detour to deliver a care package at a private boarding school for the son of one of my father's nurses. She worried that her son was not growing as he should, so each week she faithfully sent him cans of Ovaltine. Upon entering the school, I found jars and jars of unopened Ovaltine in the dining room; it was obvious the school was not giving it to the child, and I questioned the care they provided for their students. Children and parents deserve better. I thought, I can do better! And thus the spark was ignited to start a school on a farm. With the help of my father's initial $38,500 investment we started Green Chimneys Farm for Little Folk.
Over time, my vision for the school has not changed, but the world has changed quite a bit. The need for certain populations has become evident, and we've reached out to become a resource for children and families. This need has included a broad range of students who have social, emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges. We also know that reaching out to the families is crucial.
It may seem strange for a little school to have an impact on a local, regional, national, and even international level, but it has. From the beginning we have been a pioneer in the concept of animal-assisted therapy and activities. We understand the role that animals and nature have in our lives. We have the privilege to be able to share what we know with others through hosting trainings, internships, and conferences for people from all over the world and from many backgrounds.
We could not do this on our own. Many people have helped us along the way. Although it all began with a gift from my father, we have been so lucky to make many friends throughout the years -- including our dear friends at Newman's Own. We could not exist without these friendships and support. Our program revenue is not sufficient to maintain the breadth and depth of what we do, and many of our parents are unable to contribute. We rely on private support and the commitment from friends -- for that, my wife Myra and I are so grateful.
Green Chimneys is our life. We have lived on the grounds since the beginning in 1947 and raised our three children here. We love what we do -- and Green Chimneys has been successful because of that love. The children, staff, and volunteers have filled our lives with joy every day.