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From the seed of an idea, of a school on a farm, to becoming an internationally known education and human services organization, Green Chimneys in Brewster has achieved a major milestone yet: 75 years of service to children and animals.
Green Chimneys has kicked off a year-long celebration to honor its roots and decades of success, all made possible through the legacy of founders Samuel B. “Rollo” Ross, Jr. and Myra Mattes Ross; the commitment of the dedicated professionals who have worked at Green Chimneys; and the unending support of donors and partners across the globe.
The story of Green Chimneys started on October 27, 1947 with the Ross family’s purchase of a 75-acre dairy farm. At just 19 years old, inspired by childhood boarding school experiences and a genuine devotion to animals, Ross, Jr. established an environment where children and animals could live together in a farm setting.
The marriage of Sam Ross and Myra Mattes in 1954 cemented a lifelong partnership that played an important role in the growth of Green Chimneys as they became pioneers in the practice of animal-assisted activities as part of a child’s education and emotional well-being. The integration of animals and nature grew into a core component of Green Chimneys’ clinical approach, becoming a signature element in its special education and therapeutic treatment programs for children facing social, emotional and behavioral challenges.
Today, Green Chimneys is a premier nonprofit and renowned therapeutic education and treatment facility for children with special needs. As a leader in animal-assisted and nature-based practices, Green Chimneys has achieved global recognition in education and advocacy for children with a unique focus on the human-animal connection.
“Twenty years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Sam Ross but had no idea how that meeting would change my life forever,” recalled Bob Vetere, President of Green Chimneys’ Board of Directors. “Seeing how children benefit from the Green Chimneys experience has been the motivation for my commitment to promote the importance of the human-animal bond and its role in helping children develop.”
In 2022, Green Chimneys will share its history by highlighting the individuals and organizations that have been pivotal to its success; opening its doors once again for treasured events and traditions; and continuing its mission advocating for the human-animal connection, and forever in service to children.
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